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Dave McMenamin

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Lakers' hot shooting knocks Jazz out of park in Game 2

By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Apr 22 2009 9:39AM

On Saturday in New York, the Cleveland Indians hung 14 of their 22 runs in the second inning on the Yankees.

"It was just one of those games for the entire team," Cleveland second baseman Mark DeRosa said.

Three days later on the opposite side of the country, playing a completely different sport, the Los Angeles Lakers experienced the same phenomenon in their 119-109 Game 2 victory.

"Every shot that we shot I felt like was going to go in," said Trevor Ariza, who was 5-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 on threes. "Most of the shots were good looks. Even when Kobe [Bryant] was double teamed and he shot the ball, those were good looks too."

Ariza is now 13-for-16 for the series, and matching him make-for-make is Shannon Brown, who shot 2-for-3 from three and 4-for-6 overall on Tuesday. Brown has made 10 of his last 12 three-point attempts since taking over as L.A.'s first reserve guard late in the season.

Bryant finished with 26 points and nine assists and relished the facilitator role as he did in Game 1. Sure, he took a couple shots that only he would have the audacity to take -- one fade away on Ronnie Brewer comes to mind -- but he had more excitement in his teammates' makes than in his own . He was the most fervent supporter of Ariza and Brown, making a point to be the first teammate to congratulate them after a made shot with a chest bump, head slap or even full-body push.

"It's important for them to know that I trust in them and I'm excited for them when they knock down those shots and I'm going to keep coming to them," Bryant said.

As for the nature of the celebrations, Bryant scoffed at the notion that he was too physical.

"This isn't suburbs basketball."

Celebrations aside, Bryant is dialing up his intensity another notch this postseason. He already has two technical fouls in the series and his focus is beyond Utah, whose own coach admits has lost its nasty ways. He's looking to make his team tough for the long haul, for those road games when the fans want to "kill you" (as Bryant described the clientele at the Jazz's Energy Solutions Arena) and for future series when Los Angeles is in must-win situations.

Ariza and Brown weren't the only Lakers to have the hot hand. Pau Gasol only missed two of his 11 attempts to finish with 22 points and Derek Fisher hit 3-of-6 threes after going 4-for-27 from deep in his last 10 games.

Instead of a historic inning like the Indians had, L.A. had a first quarter for the ages, scoring 41 points on 18-for-21 from the field (85.7 percent) and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Odom, Gasol and Andrew Bynum were teaching young Lakers fans how to count, going 3-for-3, 4-for-4 and 5-for-5, respectively.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson called it an "offensive display" when his team scored more in the first quarter in Game 2 than the Jazz scored in the entire first half of Game 1.

"Odom made a shot that I don't know how that shot went in the basket," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, exasperated after his team let L.A. finish 45-for-75 from the field (60 percent) and 11-for-20 from deep (55 percent).

The only shot that perplexed Odom was his one shot that didn't go in. He finished 8-for-9 from the field.

"I probably rushed that last three," Odom said. "If I knew I was perfect from the field, I might have held it."

Deron Williams led Utah with 35 points and nine assists and helped cut a 20-point deficit to just three with 3:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. Ariza squelched the run by stealing a lazy pass by Kyle Korver and a pushing the ball ahead to get Odom a layup to make it a two-possession game.

L.A.'s defense would seem to be the culprit for Utah's 109 points and 49.4 percent shooting, but really it was more of a result of the Lakers' sloppy ball handling that resulted in 19 points for Utah off 21 L.A. turnovers.

The scene shifts to Utah where the Jazz were 33-8 at home this season. Last year the Lakers entered Salt Lake City up 2-0 in their West semifinal series, only to leave Utah tied 2-2.

"We know the difficulty of getting a win in Utah," Gasol said. "It's a big challenge for our team to go there and prove ourselves. It's huge. I think we should be excited about it."

The Cavaliers, the team many pundits anticipate meeting L.A. in The Finals, won their Game 2 on Tuesday to go up 2-0 in their series with the Pistons in the 1-8 matchup out East. But the Cavs allowed Detroit to cut a 27-point lead down to seven before winning by 12 to go up 2-0.

The Lakers have something in common with another Cleveland team too it turns out.

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