Looks Like Another Perfect Day

May 11, 2010 3:29 AM

Lakers Stick to Script and Sweep Jazz

Kobe and Pau.jpgThe Magic swept the Hawks and set a record by beating them by a combined 101 points. And although I only saw bits and pieces of that series, I think the Lakers vs. Jazz series could give it a run for it's money for most boring playoff series so far this year. The Lakers swept the Jazz with relative ease, exploiting their size advantage just enough to win games.

You might look at Game 4 and think it was a dominant performance by the Lakers since they won by 15. Well, sort of. They did what they had to do to win the game and made the effort when they needed to but they weren't as dominant as they should've been.

Just like in the first two games, the Lakers built comfortable leads and let them slip away. The Jazz made their move in the third quarter by taking it to the rim off the dribble. It wasn't about posting up guys but having their guards and small forwards slash to the basket and draw fouls. This was the only advantage the Jazz had in the series. When the Lakers are big, they are protecting the paint but they are vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration since their bigs can't react quick enough. The Jazz drew four fouls in the first 4:30 of the third quarter but couldn't get into the bonus until 4:35 and then didn't take advantage of it, shooting just two free throws after that.

The Lakers led by 17 at halftime but came out flat in the second half and the Jazz cut into the lead. But unlike Games 1 and 2, the Lakers pushed back in the fourth and made sure this game wouldn't come down to the wire.

Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant were unbelievable in this series but it was Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown that were the pleasant surprises in Game 4. The Jazz had cut the lead to 11 a minute into the fourth when Fisher knocked down a three and on the following Laker possession drew a foul on Deron Williams while shooting a three. The back-to-back three-point plays ballooned the lead back up to 17 and really deflated the Jazz.

Shannon Brown had two highlight dunks. One came at the end of the first quarter where he blew by Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer to give the Lakers a five-point cushion. The second came at the beginning of the second quarter when Jordan Farmar stole the ball in the backcourt and fed a slashing Brown for the Statue of Liberty slam. He also knocked down a couple threes in the fourth to eliminate any doubt about the outcome.

But, like I said - Gasol and Bryant. It's been the two of them all year and there was no reason to think it'd be any different here. The Lakers averaged just over 109 points per game in this series and Bryant and Gasol averaged 55.5 points per game. Those two combined for over half the Laker points. The Jazz had no answer for either. It didn't matter if they double-teamed them or not. They both found ways to score and help out in other ways. Gasol not only averaged 23.5 points on 61% shooting but also 15 rebounds per game. Bryant not only averaged 32 points on 52% shooting but also contributed with nearly 6 assists per game.

These two are phenomenal together and now that Bryant seems to be completely healthy, they just might be playing their best basketball of the season. While they should've won these games by more comfortable margins, perhaps I'm not quite giving the Jazz enough credit. They did win 53 games this season and defeated the Nuggets in the first round. This was the first time Jerry Sloan has ever been swept in a series and that says something about the Lakers' fortitude. Now it's onto the Suns in the Western Conference Finals. I'll be posting a preview of that series in a few days - no reason to jump the gun since they don't starting playing for another week.

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