Well, I guess all good things must come to an end, but to the shorthanded Lakers!? I understand that winning so many games in-a-row is very tough to do, but when you have a chance to beat the Lakers, especially without 2 of their starters (one of them being arguably the best player in the league), you need to go out and win that game. Beating the Lakers is one of the hardest things to do right now, so when they are giving you a freebie, you better not blow it. The Jazz, unfortunately, did.
Now, I can go on and on about the Jazz missing out on a huge opportunity, but I am not going to. Instead, I am going to give a ton of credit to the Lakers for being prepared and playing harder than the Jazz.
First of all, Lamar Odom torched the Jazz. He had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The thing that killed Utah the most was Odom’s efficiency, as he shot 7-9 from the field, and he lived at the free throw line, shooting 11-12 from the charity stripe. Included in his amazing performance were 4 And-1’s, which were real momentum shifters each and every time.
Next, there was Pau Gasol. Prior to the game, I said that Utah would need to shut him down, or at least contain him better than Duncan and the Spurs did on Monday night. That did not happen. Gasol lit up the stat sheet, as he scored 22 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, and rejected 5 shots. In other words, Pau Gasol was everywhere, and he basically set the tone for the entire game. If you think about the 5 blocked shots he had, they could have prevented 10 Utah points. 10! That can make a world of difference in a game like this.
Finally, Jordan Farmar played a tremendous game coming off of the bench. Farmar scored 18 points, including a buzzer 3, plus the shot that I considered to be the final dagger in the game (a 3-pointer that gave LA a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter). For Farmar, a guy who is coming off of the bench, to outscore Utah’s leading scorer, you know that the Jazz are going to be in trouble.
Overall, I felt like the Jazz never truly had the energy that they had shown in their previous 9 games. They appeared sluggish, and they did not attack the basket on a consistent basis. They were a few stretches where they pushed the ball, or where Boozer took it hard to the rim, but those instances were simply too few. Also, the Jazz never went on one of their game-changing runs that I have become accustomed to. I thought that they might pull one out towards the end of the game, but they just could not knock down enough shots to do it.
Although the Utah Jazz head into the All-Star break on a low note, they need to see the total body of work over the last few weeks. They have been playing extremely well, and there is nothing to hold their heads down about. They have beaten quality teams, and their road record is starting to improve. They just need to put this last game behind them and move forward with a positive attitude. The way that I have seen them play, I am led to believe that they will regroup and finish out the season on a high note.
– After averaging 111 ppg in their winning streak, the Jazz only managed 81 against the Lakers (-30).
– Utah’s leading scorer was Andrei Kirilenko, who scored 17 points.
– Deron Williams was 1 rebound shy of his first-career triple double.
– Wesley Matthews scored more than Boozer or Williams, as he scored 13 points.
– The Jazz never led in this game. In fact, the only time they were tied was at 2-2. The Lakers led the rest of the way.
– Missed free throws killed the Jazz (13-25).