After it is all said and done, the Lakers will look back at their 102-96 loss in Utah knowing it could have easily been a win.
A game that was promised to have a playoff feel lived up to the hype. This one had all the drama you’d expect to see in the NBA come June. The Jazz overcoming a hot Lake Show early. Kobe Bryant hitting clutch shot after clutch shot late. A controversial malfunctioning shot clock. It was all there. Only thing missing was the playoff logo on the EnergySolutions court.
The Lakers couldn’t miss in the first quarter, then went cold until KB24 dropped 15 straight in the fourth. Too little too late though. Another cold streak spelled certain doom as the Lakers never scored again after taking a 96-91 lead late in the contest.
It should be noted that Mamba is money on the road this year. His game-high 31 is one point higher than the average he puts up away from Staples. The Lakers couldn’t buy a bucket from three until Bryant bombed Utah sinking three from distance in the final frame.
Too bad Kobe also had a costly turnover on a fumbled exchange with Pau Gasol.
That turnover came after Deron Willims hit a game-changing triple. Of course, you can’t talk about that shot without talking about the extra seconds gifted to the Jazz thanks to that faulty shot clock. No excuses though, D-Will did the Lakers like Derrick Rose. Williams had 29 and 12 dimes on a sick 10 of 14 shooting.
Despite some defensive lapses and missed opportunities, Ron Artest had a good look in the corner that rattled in and out the rim. Had that gone down we might just be talking about the best win of the season for Phil Jackson.
Instead, the reality is this was a failed test on the road. Nobody thought it would be easy to get a W in Utah. But after the first quarter it looked like it’d be hard for the Lakers to lose. Credit to Jerry Sloan for keeping his team focused.
For the Lake Show, it’s time to move on and get back on track back home against the Pacers. The last two games have been high intensity, playoff type contests. The schedule is ramping up and we’re not even in December yet. A good effort overall that could have been a great win were it not for a few mistakes here and there. That’s the breaks.