Is it me, or was Game 2 very similar to Game 1?
The Utah Jazz did just enough to remain in the game throughout, and they had a chance in the 4th quarter with a little run. Ultimately, though, they did not have enough left in the tank, and they could not complete the comeback. It just seemed like every time that they could have really broken through, they came up short with an empty possession or a turnover.
Now, I understand that they are in LA and everything, but come on! You need to capitalize on your opportunities, and make your opponents pay for sub-par play. You could say this and that about the Lakers, and how they are the defending champs, but at the end of the day, the Lakers were a very beatable team in each of the games of this series. They are not playing 100% Lakers basketball, and the Jazz are letting them get away with it. Does this concern me moving forward? You bet.
To the notes:
– The clear edge that the Lakers have right now is LENGTH. Gasol, Bynum, and Odom all gave the Jazz fits last night, as they barely missed any shots from the field, and they grabbed bunches of rebounds. Obviously the Jazz aren’t going to grow between now and Game 3, so what is the solution to this problem? Increased desire. One of the best rebounders of his time, Charles Barkley was an undersized power forward. So what made the Chuckster so good at crashing the boards? His desire. He would put a body on a guy, box him out, and he would collect rebounds like Jordan collects paychecks. It didn’t matter that he was undersized because he worked hard, and he just wanted it more than his opponents. It is that attitude that the Utah Jazz need to have if they want any chance of a comeback in this series. There were a couple of plays that stick out in my mind, when the Lakers got offensive rebounds because of a lack of a simple box-out. Jazz players were there, with the opportunity to box out, and they simply let the Lakers have a free attempt at the ball. Sure you can say that the Lakers are too big for the Jazz, but if you don’t box out, that doesn’t even matter. Getting out-rebounded 58-40 is unacceptable, and the Jazz need to do something about it in Game 3 and beyond.
– I’m sorry all of you Fes supporters, but Kyrylo Fesenko does not belong on the court… ever! He is a waste of 7 feet, and he has no positive effect on the game. How many times is he going to let Kobe Bryant swoop to the hoop without contesting his shot? It’s ridiculous! Then there’s his offense. His shot selection is not really that bad. However, because his offensive game is so inept, any shot that he takes is considered to be a bad shot in my book. Can’t you even get a lucky roll once in a while? The guy is two feet away from the basket, and every time he seems to come up short. He needs to realize his limitations on offense, and he has to stop shooting the ball. Oh, and don’t even get me started on his free throw shooting. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever seen him make a free throw? When Dick Stockton said he was 7-17 from the line in the playoffs, I couldn’t believe it. When? When has he ever made a free throw, let alone 7? This guy is just dreadful, and he needs to stop playing. I don’t care how thin they are up front. At least Kosta Koufos was able to make that free throw line jumper. How about giving him a shot?
– If there is one piece of advice that I would give the Jazz, it is to get off to better starts. It has been an issue all season long, and it still has not been corrected. Yes, the Jazz did get off to an early 7-point lead, but in my opinion, that 7-point lead could have been 15. The Lakers started the game ice cold, yet the Jazz did not too much themselves. Getting the Lakers to miss shots is not something that has happened too often thus far in this series, and the Jazz have not taken full advantage of those chances. Who knows? If the Jazz did get off to a better start, maybe the Lakers would have never hit their stride like they did. I felt like the Jazz let them hang around early on instead of giving them the knockout blow. Then, of course, Kobe hits a shot, Gasol gets a rebound, and everybody is in a frenzy. Instead of being in a minor panic mode, the Lakers were comfortable because they knew that even at their worst, the Jazz could not build a sizable lead. Does that change when this series shifts to SLC? I sure hope so.
After two games, it is clear to me that the Jazz are not too over-matched in this series. Most people would say that they are, but look at the scores of the games. Would a difference of a few possessions be considered total domination? No way! Of course, the Lakers have enormous advantages over the Jazz in certain areas, but even so, the Jazz are always one run away from stealing a game. If the Jazz could just put together a strong 48 minutes of basketball, there is no doubt that they can beat the Lakers. But until they go out and do it, they are not going to get any respect out of anybody. It’s time, Utah. It’s time.
P.S. I would like to give a huge round of applause to Paul Millsap for having a standout game last night. He truly gave it his all, and he showed why he is considered to be one of the best sixth men in the league. He single-handedly gave the Jazz hope, and I feel terrible that his efforts got lost in the loss. Keep working hard, ‘Sap. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!