May 11, 2008

Lakers Lose for the First Time in the 2008 Playoffs

So much for sweeping the Utah Jazz.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 3 of their Western Conference Semi-finals off an improved play from Jazz forward Carlos Boozer and poor play of the Lakers supporting cast. The game was relatively close and the Lakers had the chance to catch up in the last few minutes of the game, but Boozer came up big in the clutch for the Jazz.

Newly-minted MVP Kobe Bryant still put up MVP numbers (34 points on 50% shooting, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) but he missed all his 3 point shots. No other member of the Lakers scored more than 15 points. Lakers starters like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Vladimir Radmanovic were rendered ineffective. Key subs Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic combined for 0 points and 5 missed 3-point attempts.

The Lakers offense was practically a jump-shooting show as the they hoisted more 3-point attempts in Game 3 than Games 1 & 2 combined. They also weren't passing much, a crucial factor for the Lakers' triangle offense.

But you have to hand it to the Utah Jazz-- they really came to play. Carlos Boozer finally showed up with a monster 27 point-20 rebound game and Memo Okur was shooting the lights out. The Jazz are really formidable at their home court and the game was proof to that. But the Jazz may have adapted the good old strategy of letting one player from the other team beat them and shutting down the rest of the team-- something Jazz coach Jerry may have utilized against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1990's.

The Lakers played better team basketball in Games 1 & 2, and they must continue doing that in Game 4. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have their jobs cut out for them as their Jazz counterparts have stepped up. And Kobe Bryant must again show his MVP mettle by making the Lakers better, unless they want go return to Los Angeles with the series knotted at 2-2.

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