News » 2008-09 NBA CHAMPIONS



GAME 1: at Lakers 113, Jazz 100

GAME 2: at Lakers 119, Jazz 109

GAME 3: at Jazz 88, Lakers 86

GAME 4: Lakers 108, at Jazz 94

GAME 5: at Lakers 107, Jazz 96

Ebb and flow

Utah Coach Jerry Sloan said the Jazz's prospects in the first round were "pretty bleak" after the Lakers closed the regular season with a 125-112 victory over the Jazz at Staples Center.

Sloan was ultimately right, but the Lakers kept things interesting by showing a tendency to led big leads slip away.

The Jazz cut a 22-point deficit to nine in Game 1 and reduced a 20-point difference to three in Game 2 before losing both. Then in Game 3, the Lakers blew a 13-point lead late in the third quarter and lost when Utah guard Deron Williams made a 14-footer with 2.2 seconds left. The Lakers shot only 36.9% and Kobe Bryant made only five of 24 shots for 18 points.

The Lakers turned everything around in Game 4. They outrebounded the Jazz, 46-39; shot 51.9% as a team; and Bryant scored 38 points on 16-for-24 shooting.

The Lakers' playoff trademark of blowing big leads resurfaced in Game 5. A 22-point lead near the end of the third quarter fizzled to six with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter before the Lakers managed to pull away. The Lakers' pitfalls notwithstanding, Sloan apparently knew what he was talking about.

Star watch

Bryant and Williams showed some of the same brilliance they had in their three regular-season matchups.

Bryant scored 40 and 37 points in the first two games of the regular season and averaged 27.4 points and 5.6 assists in the series despite his off-night in Game 3.

Williams was a leading scorer in two of the Jazz's regular-season games against the Lakers (31 points Feb. 11, 25 points April 14) and was an effective scorer and distributor in the series.

Other than his below-par Game 5, Jazz forward Carlos Boozer also had a big series, highlighted by his 23-point, 22-rebound performance in Game 3.

Who knew?

Was Nuggets Coach George Karl right when he said the Lakers were actually a better team without center Andrew Bynum?

Bynum returned from a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee for the last four regular-season games and averaged 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. Three of those games were against playoff teams -- Denver, Portland and Utah.

But Bynum vanished in the playoffs and averaged only five points and three rebounds while shooting 39.1% against the Jazz.

A similar thing happened to Jazz center Mehmet Okur. He missed the series' first three games because of a strained right hamstring and scored zero points in Game 4 and eight in Game 5.

With Bynum having foul troubles, Phil Jackson yanked him from the starting lineup in Games 4 and 5. Bynum played a total of about 18 minutes in those games. Jackson maintained that Bynum would return to the starting lineup in the semifinals.

By the numbers

Lakers :

Kobe Bryant: 27.4 points

5.6 assists

five rebounds

Pau Gasol: 18.4 points

nine rebounds


Carlos Boozer: 20.6 points

13.2 rebounds

Deron Williams: 20.2 points

10.8 assists

Lasting impression

The Lakers had six days of rest after wrapping up their opening series in five games, giving them time to watch the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers slug it out in the first round.

The break gave forward Luke Walton time to recover from a partially torn ligament in his left ankle, which he suffered in Game 4. Bynum had time to try to work back into the lineup after getting only two points and five rebounds in 12 minutes of Game 5.

The Lakers privately breathed a sigh of relief upon learning they were playing the Rockets. The Lakers are 0-8 in Portland since 2005; they had gone 5-2 against Houston in the last two seasons.


Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 17, 2009


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