Lakers Gameday | 04/19/09 | Lakers 113, Jazz 100
Western Conference Seed: 1
Western Conference Seed: 8
|Injury Report||Injury Report|
---Francisco Gomez, Lakers.com
Box Score | Play-by-Play | Quotes
|Los Angeles Lakers||Utah Jazz|
Lakers beat Jazz 113-110 to win playoff opener
LOS ANGELES(AP) The Lakers won the West in a runaway and they stuck to a similar script in their playoff opener.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Trevor Ariza added 21 and Pau Gasol 20 as Los Angeles defeated the Utah Jazz 113-100 Sunday.
Allowing a Phil Jackson-coached team to win Game 1 of any series doesn't bode well for the opposition. Jackson's teams improved to 42-0 in series openers, including 18-0 with the Lakers.
The Lakers wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference with 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the regular season, and eventually won the West by 11 games.
They pretty much had their way against the Jazz, leading by 22 points at halftime and then answered resoundingly both times Utah got within nine in the second half.
Bryant's total gave him 3,710 career postseason points, moving him past Magic Johnson and into ninth on the NBA's list. He trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) and Jerry West (4,457) for most points in the playoffs with the Lakers.
Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 27 points and Deron Williams added 16 points and a career playoff-high 17 assists. Both were in foul trouble, with Boozer getting his third just before halftime when Williams already had two.
The Jazz sorely missed Mehmet Okur, who sat out with a mild right hamstring strain. He averages 17 points and 7.5 rebounds and gives Utah a much-needed inside presence against the Lakers' twin 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Gasol.
Bynum had seven points and three rebounds playing in foul trouble most of the game.
The Jazz were 15-26 on the road during the regular season, and their luck at Staples Center isn't any better. The Lakers have won 10 in a row, including playoff games, at home against them.
The Jazz outscored the Lakers 33-24 in the third quarter to trail 86-73 going into the final 12 minutes. They opened the quarter on a 9-0 run, then a 9-2 burst got them to 72-63, their first single-digit deficit since late in the opening quarter.
But Bryant scored three in a row and Shannon Brown hit a 3-pointer that kept the Lakers ahead by 13.
The Jazz got to 98-89 on a 3-pointer by Andrei Kirilenko with 5:46 remaining in the game. Bryant answered with four points in a row and Gasol hit two free throws that pushed the lead back to 13 points.
Williams stole the ball from Bryant to start the game and the Jazz hit three quick shots to take their largest lead of four points.
It was all Lakers after that.
Bryant spent the first quarter getting his teammates involved, dishing off to Ariza and Brown for 3-pointers, and the Lakers built a 30-10 lead while shooting 71 percent.
Bryant sat down to start the second quarter while Lamar Odom and Bynum combined to score the Lakers' first 12 points, stretching their lead to 42-29. Twice the Jazz got within 10 in that span, but the Lakers took off on a 20-8 scoring binge the second time.
Bryant contributed by reeling off nine consecutive points before Luke Walton's 3-pointer gave the Lakers a 62-40 halftime lead.
The Jazz struggled on 35 percent shooting from the floor, and hit just 1-of-7 from 3-point range in the half.
Notes: Lakers coach Phil Jackson is breaking with his playoff tradition of wearing the most recent championship ring from his collection of nine NBA titles. "I'm tired of wearing that ring,'' he said about his 2002 bauble. "I've been wearing it for seven years now.'' ... Utah coach Jerry Sloan, Bryant and Odom each received technical fouls. ... Lakers G Jordan Farmar played despite tendinitis in his right pinky toe. ... Kanye West, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Eddie Murphy and Kelsey Grammar were among the celebs at the game.
Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
LAKERS - JAZZ PREVIEW
Phil Jackson padded around in flip flops and Sasha Vujacic attempted free throws off his foot at the end of practice. If the Los Angeles Lakers are worried about opening the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, it sure didn't show.
"We're just ready to go," Kobe Bryant said Saturday. "Everybody is pretty relaxed. It's a long haul so you can't psych yourself through the roof already."
Tell that to Laker fans and pundits, who already have Los Angeles advancing to face Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.
"We're just not talking about stuff like that," Jackson said. "But we won't condemn those people, that's their job. That's what they have to do. They have to make choices like that, put themselves on the line. I'm not going to put myself on the line."
What the Lakers will cop to is that anything less than winning the NBA championship for the first time since 2002 would be a major blow. They came close last season, losing to Boston in six games, including a 131-92 rout to end it that still stings.
"I notice a little bit more attention to detail, a little bit more focus," Bryant said about his team's playoff mind-set. "Myself and Derek (Fisher) are probably the two grumpiest, so leave me the hell alone."
The Lakers earned the top seed in the Western Conference in a runaway, racking up 65 victories to become the third-winningest team in franchise history.
They open against Utah on Sunday at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 16-3 against the Jazz since the arena opened in 1999 and have won the last six in a row between the teams.
The Lakers got a huge boost when Andrew Bynum returned April 9 after missing 32 games because of a knee injury.
He and Pau Gasol give the Lakers two 7-footers to patrol the paint, and the duo helped Los Angeles score 58 points down low Tuesday night in a 125-112 victory over the Jazz to close the regular season.
Bynum and Gasol dominated on a night when Bryant scored just 16 points in 26 minutes. Bynum's 22 points were his best effort since returning four games ago, while Gasol had 20 points.
The Lakers won the season series, 3-1, losing 113-109 at Utah.
The Jazz limped into the eighth and final playoff spot, losing seven of their final nine games. Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams, their top three scorers, didn't play together for the first time until Feb. 23 because of injuries.
Boozer missed the most games of all -- 44 -- after left knee surgery, with the Jazz going 25-19 in his absence.
"We're as ready as we're going to be," Boozer said. "Now it's just time to go play and play smart, but at the same time follow our instincts."
Okur hasn't practiced all week because of a strained right hamstring and sat out again Saturday in the team's final workout before leaving for Los Angeles.
"We'll just try to keep it going without him, but we definitely need Memo out there," Williams said. "The sooner he can get back the better."
Okur said his chances of playing Sunday were low.
"I can't even run 100 percent, so it's hard to play if you can't run," he said. "But the good thing is I'm getting better."
Utah coach Jerry Sloan said Jarron Collins would likely start in Okur's place, as he did Tuesday, getting five points and six rebounds. C.J. Miles is a game-time decision with a dislocated left index finger.
"I think our players will come together and if the effort's not there, then we don't have much of a shot," Sloan said. "If you don't play hard, it doesn't make any difference who you're playing."
Williams had 25 points and 13 assists in Okur's absence Tuesday against the Lakers, while Andrei Kirilenko came off the bench to score 20 points.
Stopping Williams from driving inside will be up to Bynum and Gasol.
"It's really important that our bigs and our wings get back in transition because he loves to penetrate and probe, and really, he's aggressive with it," Gasol said. "That will be a huge thing, if we can keep him under control. Because of his size and speed, he's a dangerous guard."
Jordan Farmar is day-to-day for the Lakers because of a foot injury, but otherwise they aren't hurting.
Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
LAKERS vs. UTAH IN THE POSTSEASON
LAKERS IN BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES
OPENING ROUND HISTORY (Los Angeles era only)