Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers
Western Conference Semi-Finals: Game 2
"I'm at a loss for words, I don't know what to say, I love you guys so much...We're going to play until June. Let's get this party started."
There's no turning back now, NBA...this is no dream, and we're not in Cleavland...David Stern himself handed the NBA's 2007-2008 Most Valuable Player Trophy to none other than Kobe Bean Bryant. A night which even some of the most die hard Kobe Braynt fans honestly never thought would come. Not to mention a night that Kobe himself never thought would come in his illustrious career. A night that ended just as encouragingly as it began as our MVP led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 2-0 series lead with a 120 to 110 game 2 victory over the Utah Jazz in the wester conference semis Wednesday at Staples. In front of a sea of yellow t-shirts celebrating his accomplishment, Kobe did not disappoint. He dropped 34 points on 11 of 18 shooting and 11 of 12 from the charity stripe, grabbed 8 boards, and dished 6 - leaving, as he has all year, Jerry Sloan and the rest of the Utah Jazz pondering the answer to the league's most puzzling question - How do you stop Kobe Bryant? Unfortunately for the Jazz, and the rest of the NBA, you don't.
Kobe Bryant was magnificent on the night he was handed the trophy. it would seem that he can finally take his rightful seat upon the NBA throne it seemed they were prepping for bron bron. The Utah Jazz had every reason to be pumped up, and to believe they had a shot at stealing homecourt advantage. Yet even after giving the jazz added motivation with his proclamation playoff advancement, Kobe would not be denied. Anyone who has been following kobe's career for any length of time should have known that this was the most likely outcome. No one shines under pressure more consistently than Bryant. He was literally unstoppable when he went into attack mode in the third period, scoring 12 on 6 of 7 shooting.
The bench didn't put up insane numbers this outing, and this game is old so i'm just going to touch on the starters. Namely, Derek Fisher. Fish went for 22 on 7 for 10 against his former team, highlighted by 4 of 5 from beyond the arc and 4 for 4 from the stripe. he was also solid on the defensive end, continuing to disrupt Williams and coming up 2 assists and three steals to compliment 0 turnovers. Radmanovic accomplished nothing, while Gasol and Odom pulled together the rest of slack. Gasol added 20 points, 5 assists, 5 boards, and 5 blocks, while odom managed another double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
the Lakers were outrebounded, again, this time 41 to 47. Also again, the big glaring difference was on the offensive rebounding front as the Lakers grabbed 4 to Utah's 16. Now, the problem isn't with the lakers not grabbing a lot of offensive boards. As a team, we shot 57% from the field, and a scorching 63% from deep. The problem lies in our inability to keep them off the boards. Normally, i wouldn't be concerned that this won't be address by the time we make it to Utah, but the fact that this has been a trend in all six of our victories this postseason worries me. At the same time, you could argue the key word in that sentence is "victories." We also managed to ring up 5 more turnovers than the jazz. These are the types of numbers that you can't afford to see in the box score on the road. I imagine Phil and company are on top of this, but we will not continue to go undefeated this post-season if we don't address the offensive rebounding, turnovers, and our overall defense - which has given up 98 and 110 in over the first two games.
Destined for the finals? Well, if you're a superstitious personn, or just like to believe that history writes the future it sure looks that way. you don't have to believe in fate, or even Zen, you just have to believe. Correct me if i'm wrong, but as "cocky" as some believe Kobe to be, i don't remember him ever making all that many predictions. Off the top of my head i can only think of one, it took place on this night, and was about this team playing in June. More specifically, the NBA finals. One of the more popular stats that has been thrown around this post-season in regards to the lakers is, 39-0. As you probably well know, that is Phil Jackson's record after winning the first game of a playoff series. Then there's the lesser know leap year effect that has been touched on. 2008 is a leap year, and since 1980, all leap years have had something in common...
1980: Lakers Win the NBA Championship (4-2)
1984: Lakers lose in the NBA Finals (3-4)
1988: Lakers win the NBA Championship (4-3)
1992: Phil's Bulls win the NBA Championship (4-2)
1996: Phil's Bulls win the NBA Championship (4-2)
2000: Phil's Lakers win the NBA Championship (4-2)
2004: Phil's Lakers lose in the NBA Finals (1-4)
Either the Lakers or a Phil Jackson coached team has made it to the NBA finals.
Beginning with Summer '07, and, hopefully, ending in Summer '08...this year has turned out to be the most *insert powerful adjectives here* year i've seen in my many years as a basketball fan. I can honestly say this couldn't have been more exciting or suspenseful if it was a hollywood screenplay. Its only fitting that setting be Los Angeles, the star the MVP, and the ending...well, there's only one way this tale of tales can end. See ya in June!