Quantcast 2010 Los Angeles Lakers: Lakers vs Jazz

 

NBA Playoff Recap – Western Conference Semifinal, Game 1

(1) L.A. Lakers 104, (5) Utah 99 – Lakers lead series, 1-0

 

 

 

We have seen this story before.  The script, key players, and locations haven’t changed.  And neither has the outcome.  The world champion Los Angeles Lakers, in a familiar playoff matchup with the underdog Utah Jazz, jumped out to a double-digit first-half lead, coasted into the fourth quarter, and then summoned a brief window of great basketball to close out the ballgame.  Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers took a 1-0 series lead.

Los Angeles has eliminated Utah from each of the past two postseasons.  It looked as if it would be another quick series after the Lakers extended their lead to 14 points midway through the second quarter.  The Lakers shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the first half.  The game might have been lost early for the Jazz were it not for the play of All-Star Deron Williams, who scored a game-high 17 first-half points to keep the underdogs within single digits.

The two squads played to a standstill during much of the second half.  Utah’s second unit, which had been blitzed by the Lakers in the first half, regrouped to bring the Jazz back in the fourth quarter.  Reserve Ronnie Price seemingly did it all during a seven-minute span that saw the Jazz take an 83-82 lead with just under seven minutes remaining. 

 



Utah continued to apply pressure as the fourth quarter dragged on.  Paul Millsap’s layup extended Utah’s lead to 93-89 with just over four minutes remaining.  It seemed that all was lining up for Utah to shock the world and steal Game 1 at the Staples Center, a place where Utah had lost 14 straight matchups heading into Sunday. 

The world champs had other plans.

The Lakers turned up the defensive pressure, holding Utah without a field goal for almost four minutes, during which time the advantageous Laker length showed its value.  Center Pau Gasol scored 25 points and added 12 rebounds as the Lakers counterpunched the upset-minded Jazz.  Gasol and forward Lamar Odom scored seven points in the final quarter off putbacks.

Beyond the realm of the glass, the Lakers scored on seven of their last ten fourth-quarter possessions.  The Jazz, on the other hand, were empty on seven of their last ten fourth-quarter possessions.  When the game was on the line the Lakers rose to challenge and delivered Utah the knockout blow.  The Jazz was left wondering if their last chance to win in L.A. had just slipped away, or whether this horror movie can be reversed for the remainder of the series.  Either way, the Lakers are thrilled to play their part and advance toward yet another title.  They’re on their way… at least after one game.

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By: Zach Bloxham
Pro Basketball Fans Guest Writer


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