Heir'z Corner: Lakers Earn Entertaining Win Over JazzFinal Score: 113-100
It was obvious from the opening tip that Phil and the rest of the coaching staff won't allow the team to play lackadaisical heading into this difficult stretch in the schedule. Not one player came out unfocused and out of tune with the rest of the starters, even Luke had a little G in his walk. Utah's struggles on offense made it easier and easier for us as the 1st quarter began, it was a combination of Bynum and Pau both forcing them away from the basket and no movement from the perimeter players to counter. Deron Williams not being active with the ball or playing with any sense of leadership left their offense looking stagnant and confusing, leading to turnovers and forced outside shots. The rest of the game would be a seesaw, however.Luke
- Luke didn't receive much action tonight, but when he was actually in he continued to do the good things on offense that's earned him the past 11 games in the starting lineup: a breath of fresh air for the stars. He had a couple of good assists and some rebounds that helped us build the lead, but due to Ariza's insane hustle Luke could barely get much time in the second half. Final stat line: 2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1-4 from the field.
- Bynum had a truly disappointing night. Yes, it's nice that he shot 50% (3-6) and blocked 3 shots, but something is wrong if he can only take 6 shots and only grab 2 rebounds in 25 minutes. A 7-footer should have more of an impact in a game than that. In the next two games Bynum will be battling Greg Oden and Tyson Chandler, if he doesn't impose his will in those games it will greatly diminish our chances of winning. The problem is that he's playing as if he's just another guy out there, when a lot of times he's the most intimidating guy on the court in terms of size and strength. If he doesn't use that to scare guards away from the basket and to keep his defender afraid and on his heels, what good is having that body in the paint? And he has the nerve to question why he's sipping Gatorade and shooting breeze with the towel boys during the 4th quarter? Pau, on the other hand, had a perfect game. He filled up the stat sheet and had the kind of night that'll make teams fear us come playoff time. That is, if Bynum can manage to secure more than 2 rebounds. Final stat lines: Bynum- 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3-6 from the field, 2-6 from the line, 3 blocks, 4 fouls. Pau- 21 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists 6-13 from the field.
- The onslaught we came out with to start the game tailed off as a team, but Kobe's fire never went out. This is the type of Kobe we need if we plan on winning games more convincingly, not necessarily the 40 points but the competitive nature that will keep the team hungry throughout the game. When Kobe plays with swag, the team plays with swag. When Kobe plays lazy defense, the team plays lazy defense (except Ariza of course). It didn't matter who Utah put on Kobe tonight, he just decided to dominate. Once he decides that, there's nothing you can do. Final stat line: 40 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 13-23 from the field, 2-3 from downtown, 12-14 from the line.
- Fish actually seemed a little less out of control tonight, but of course he still managed to get his occasional terrible pass to a player in traffic under the basket in. He playing the most minutes isn't why he led us in turnovers. It's funny, though; you would've expected him to get more free shots with Kobe and Pau dominating like they did tonight. Final stat line: 11 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 4-12 from the field.Bench
- Sasha gave us absolutely nothing tonight, but it was hard to notice with LO and Ariza playing so beautifully. Say what you want about Odom, but simply having him on this team provides us with versatility that no other team in the league can match. You won't see him have games like this one every night, but most of the time he has an advantage against the flatfooted 7 footer off the bench he's matched up against. Ariza saved us from collapsing in those last 3 minutes with his 2 steals and 2 game-changing baskets. There's nothing I can say to describe his play that we all haven't said a million times.
- We battle Portland next and I think I speak for everyone when I say that if we play them the same way we did Utah tonight, coming out strong and then blowing the lead in a weak second half, we'll lose. Oden isn't even an offensive force, but I'm already seeing visions of him bullying Mr. Two Rebounds in 25 Minutes in the paint Sunday. We have to come out with the same force we did tonight and keep the foot on the gas for the full 48 minutes (I said that as if they'll actually do it, huh?). We have to make a statement before our rematch with New Orleans.