It felt like I was watching Game 1 all over again. The only difference was the Lakers' cushion was about four points larger.
In Game 1, the Lakers led by about 8-12 points multiple times but let the Jazz back into the game. Last night, the Lakers constantly had leads of 11-15 points but allowed the Jazz to close the gap.
In Game 1, the Jazz held a four-point lead with four minutes remaining and in Game 2, they cut the deficit to four points with five minutes remaining.
In Game 1, the Lakers went on a 15-6 run to end the game and in Game 2, they went on a 9-2 run after the Jazz cut it to four points to put the game out of reach.
The Jazz are showing they're resilient but the Lakers are just too big. That's all there is to it. Most playoff series can be dissected in a variety of ways and there are many reasons why one team has the advantage but it's just cut and dry between these two. Let's just look at the stat lines of the two starting front court players:
For the Jazz - CJ Miles, Carlos Boozer and Kyrylo Fesenko - 16/43 for 42 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks.
For the Lakers - Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum - 21/37 for 55 points, 35 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Want more stats? The Lakers scored 34 of their 58 points in the first half off of dunks and layups. They blocked 13 shots compared to just 4 for the Jazz.
The Jazz are forced to double-team in the post and if Ron Artest could hit a three-pointer, the Lakers would've blown the Jazz out. Artest was 1-7 on three-pointers in which he was wide open.
So, what kept the Jazz in the game? Careless turnovers. The Lakers turned the ball over 20 times and the Jazz scored 28 points off those turnovers.But the Lakers have not been able to squash the hope of the Jazz and that could be dangerous as the series heads to Utah. The Jazz can look at this game and see that Deron Williams had a horrible night and yet they still were in striking distance in the fourth. Williams went four for 16 and scored just two points in the final 16 minutes of the game.
Utah isn't quite as loud as Oklahoma City but it's definitely one of the most intimidating places to play. If the Lakers bring the same lack of intensity from Games 1 and 2 to Utah, this series could be tied at two a piece quite easily. But, I expect the Lakers to take one of these two and have a chance to close out the series at home in Game 5.