- No talk about the Phoenix Suns here, I think it's appropriate to celebrate victories first before thinking about what's ahead. You have to enjoy the journey and stay in the moment. I'm sure we'll hear plenty about Phoenix with this long rest period, that series can wait until later (like, at least this afternoon).
- Kudos to the Jazz, they played hard, as expected. They never gave up, and they never lost their composure in the midst of physical play. They played with dignity and pride, but it wasn't enough on a night when Kobe took turns with Pau shredding the Jazz defense.
- The much heralded length of the Lakers continued last night, with the Lakers' arms like trees creating a canopy above the Jazz players under the basket. I can imagine less reasonable Jazz fans being steamed at the officiating, but the best part of the TNT broadcast was that every time they showed the replay, the correct call was there, plain as day - except when Derek Fisher was involved, but he gets an exception because he has that intangible quality that seems to bend the minds of referees. One of those correct calls was Artest stripping the ball away from Deron Williams on a shot attempt, even I was somewhat surprised at the no-call watching it live, and seeing Williams' hard landing on his back. But lo and behold, the slow motion replay told a different story, showing Artest cleaning taking the ball away from Williams.
- As mentioned before, I agreed with most of the non-Fisher calls benefiting the Lakers. But here are the non-calls that were to the Jazz's detriment: Bynum pulled a "Boozer" and pushed a Jazz player in the small of the back to secure a defensive rebound, Kobe traveled by moving his back foot before putting the ball down and driving by Kyle Korver, who was called for the subsequent block, Kobe charged into Mathews - granted, this was a flop, because Mathews went flying backwards, but every time I've seen that play live, the refs call the charge on Kobe, so although it's nice to see the non-call, I can understand a Jazz fan being upset by the lack of a call, especially since it allowed Kobe to get to the basket unimpeded.
- Fesenko goal-tended a Kobe layup, as it hit the backboard before Fesenko swatted it away.
- Even with the Jazz cutting the lead to single digits, I was never more than mildly concerned. As a Lakers fan, you have to get used to the inevitable let-up in intensity in a game where the Lakers are leading big, they start feeling out "are we going to have to really focus to put this game away?" because, you know, it's really nice when you can stop working and cruise to the end. The Lakers didn't exactly get it together, but they did break a sweat in the third and fourth, and did enough to put this game to rest . It was a fight that they were winning by a bunch on the scorecard, and they kept the other boxer at bay for the decision. Everyone wants the slugger to go for the KO, but that requires so much more effort when you have a lead. It ain't right, but I get it. The Lakers seemed to have the right intensity on offense in the third quarter, but on defense? Not so much.
- Deron Williams is a bad, bad man. I shudder to think of him paired with a skilled big man.
- Don't be too hard on Boozer, Jazz fans. He's a good player, he was just physically overmatched in this series. Obviously not worth max money, but disregarding his salary, he is one of the better players in the league.
- What, Farmar, you're not even going to crack a smile after you banked in that three?
- I thought the Lakers went to what I call their "5 minutes left ball" (also known as "Kobe-ball" or "F the triangle") a tad early, as they started to play that way mid-way through the third quarter. Still, it was beautiful to see that desperate play on both sides of the court from both teams. The Lakers were trying to keep the Jazz's heads under the water, and the Jazz were valiantly trying to break to the surface for air. Morbid, I know, but beautiful to see that do-or-die attitude on display.
- Speaking of beauty, It's just been a treat these past few games to see the Kobe we know, the guy with the explosive first step, the one who gets to the line when the other team is in the penalty just by blowing by defender and getting blocking calls when they can't keep up, the guy who makes ridiculously difficult shots. He was absolutely filthy at times, silencing the crowd in Salt Lake (on the road he's not only "The Closer", he's also "The Silencer"). That Utah crowd is great, by the way - they were roaring still with the Jazz down by double digits late in the game. You have to admire that. Please forgive those girls in the "FISH LIED" T-shirts, they know not what they do.
- This was funny (watch at 0:20), but Kobe and the Lakers got the last laugh.
- Fisher continued to stick daggers in the Jazz with what I call his "NOOO... ok" deep threes.
- Shannon Brown did a sweet impression of Trevor Ariza on offense last night, supplying the Lakers with high flying dunks and timely threes. Brown+Artest = Ariza X 2.75
- One of the highlights of my night was hoping that Pau would make a three pointer with the shot clock winding down (he missed). It's OK, Pau made it up with that Dream Shake he pulled on Fesenko. Niiiice.
- Enjoy this series win for a day, Lakers fans, before you turn your thoughts to the offensive stylings of Steve Nash and his Band of Ballers.
- UPDATE: Check out this nice recap of the game over at Slamonline, at the end is this nice gem from Deron Williams:
... DWill offered up what sounded like a pre-prepared concession speech:
“They’re a championship team and then, people made Kobe mad. People owe him an apology. I heard Chuck say he’s getting old and he’s not gonna be able to do the same things…he pretty much did ‘em”