May 13, 2008

Lakers painfully hand over Game 4 to Jazz in Overtime

After losing for the first time for the NBA Playoffs in Game 3, the Los Angeles Lakers have their first losing streak.

The Lakers lost in overtime to the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of their best of seven Western Conference Semi-finals in a game that featured a lot of pain. The biggest one being the pain on Kobe Bryant's back. Kobe suffered back spasms during the first moments of the game and it definitely affected his performance. After shooting a very good percentage in Games 1 to 3, Kobe shot poorly (13 out of 33). He even said "I just couldn’t elevate, get enough space to knock down a jump shot."

Lakers forward Ronnie Turiaf committed a strong foul on Jazz guard Ronnie Price which resulted with a cut near the eye to the Utah sub. Turiaf was ejected as a result of his pain-inflicting flagrant foul .

As a Laker fan, it was pretty painful to see the Lakers fold during in OT after putting a better effort in the first 48 minutes. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom stepped up from the previous game performance and Sahsa Vujacic gave the energy and shooting from off the bench. But there were still non-factors in Vladimir Radmanovic and Jordan Farmar. At the rate the series is going, the Lakers need a good game from all of the guys to pull out win in Salt Lake City.

The key to the Lakers winning in Game 5 are the containment of Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams. The pair could be seen as Utah's New Age Karl Malone-John Stockton duo and they have dealt the most damage in the Lakers' losses-- Boozer had a big 20-20 game in Game 3, Williams recorded 29 points and 14 assists in Game 4. The Lakers better defend their home court.

Another factor is the Lakers shooting and reliance on outside shots. The team won on crisp passing that resulted on easy baskets in Games 1 and 2. On the next two games, the Lakers began impersonating the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns by shooting too much from the outside. Those two teams have been eliminated in the first round, go figure.

Still, the biggest concern is Kobe Bryant's back. If he's affected by it severely, then this series could painfully end in Game 6 in Utah.

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