Although Utah is known as a second half team and led a furious comeback against the Lakers earlier in the season, there seemed little chance of that happening last night. The Lakers led 93-65 at the end of the third quarter and used the fourth as a chance to rest their starters: no one played over 30 minutes which is essential considering their age and their schedule during the next week, not to mention the next month. Because of the giant lead, the deeper parts of the bench were able to get some quality minutes on the court, including rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter as well as recent Laker acquisition Joe Smith.
Two parts of the fourth quarter definitely stood out, even though it was essentially garbage time. Odom was in for the first few minutes and continued his all around excellence. He started the quarter hitting a three, but the standout play was his spectacular Kobe-esque circus shot! He was trying to drive around the outside towards the baseline but got hit and threw up a rainbow as he fell out of bounds. It was so high and looked like he was falling behind the basket, but it went in and was crazy beautiful.
L.O just shrugged with a disbelieving smirk because he seemed as surprised as anyone that his last ditch effort to draw a shooting foul actually worked. Although it wasn’t as controlled a sequence, it was eerily reminiscent of Black Mamba’s crazy over the backboard shot in a game against Oklahoma City last season.
Lamar finished with 17 points, 8 boards and 4 assists, continuing to showcase his immense versatility. It is high praise indeed when more than one opposing coach has pointed to Odom as the match up nightmare on a loaded Lakers team.
While you wouldn’t normally be able to call a missed dunk a stand out moment, Shannon Brown is so explosive that his attempts are usually better than other people’s makes. He got a feed from Steve Blake near half court and took off in the vicinity of the free throw line, his arm cocked back at a ridiculous angle- unfortunately the ball went off the back rim. Shannon had a huge embarrassed smile on his face and loped off to the bench where they greeted him with smiles and pats on the back.
Considering it was at a meaningless point of the game, the missed dunk wasn’t too egregious an error and therefore taken in the spirit of fun. It would have been bananas if Brown had made it… but I’m sure there are more acrobatic dunks in his future.
This was a pretty glowing recap because there was honestly very little to critique. The Lakers looked fantastic and led wire to wire for the eighth time this season. The ball movement was excellent which led to contributions from all over; they played aggressive but smart basketball while utilizing good shot selection to help pad their blistering shooting statistics. Add to that the continued defensive improvement and the relatively few turnovers, and the Lakers came up with an emphatic win over a perennial playoff opponent.