Lakers hold off Jazz to win Game 1, 104-99

The Lakers led by eight heading into the fourth quarter, but with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer out of the game, the Utah reserves took advantage of the Lakers’ bench, going on an 8-1 run to start the period. After Kobe and Gasol returned, the Jazz managed to build a four-point lead with four minutes to play, but the Lakers went on a 15-6 run (featuring 11 of Kobe’s 31 points) to put the game away.

These two teams actually remind me of the Bucks/Hawks first round matchup. Like the Hawks, the Lakers are more talented, yet they tend to lose focus during (sometimes long) stretches of the game. The Jazz are a more talented version of the Bucks — a team that is going to play its heart out from start to finish. What this means is that the Jazz are probably going to have a chance to steal a game or two in L.A. They almost stole Game 1, but five straight missed shots with under four minutes to play did the Jazz in.

Like Jeff Van Gundy said, when it gets into crunch time, the Jazz need to double off of Ron Artest and force Kobe to give the ball up. If Utah can put the ball in Artest’s hands, they’ll have a better chance to win. This may go against Jerry Sloan’s straight man-to-man philosophy, but I’d rather see an uncomfortable Artest launching long jumpers than let Kobe go one-on-one with Wes Matthews.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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