Sunday, April 19, 2009

VSR: 1 Down, 15 To Go

The Lakers opened the 2009 NBA postseason with a surprisingly dominant start over a good Utah Jazz team. 113-100 may be the final score but this game was pretty 1-sided. It says a lot when Trevor Ariza set a career high with 17 points (including a monster slam around Carlos Boozer) and Shannon Brown had 9 in his playoff debut.

From what I saw, we just shot the lights out. The bench stepped up with Odom and Brown leading the way and with Ariza's energy and scoring, you almost forgot that Kobe put together a solid outing (21 and 8 dimes).

Probably the 3 plays that said a lot about this game were back-to-back jumpers from Kobe where he snuck around a failed screen from Pau Gasol and still shot it over Andrei Kirilenko with ease. On the third series, Kirilenko picked his pocket, only to ruin a fastbreak by passing around Kobe instead of trying to dunk on him, leading to a turnover.

The Jazz simply had no energy. Nuf said.

But I was worried because Deron Williams had an off night shooting and still had 17 assists that came pretty easy. Because the Lakers looked lackluster in the 4th quarter and that 22-pt halftime lead was down to 9 a few times. Because Andrew Bynum (7 pts, 3 rebs) was a non-factor against a team that rebounds pretty well. Because Mehmet Okur didn't play.

I'm expecting more in Game 2 from Utah because Williams will not have a back-to-back nightmare from the field and Okur could return. But at the same time, I know the Lakers will not give up homecourt advantage because they know what's at stake - having not won in Salt Lake this year.

If Ariza and Brown continue their great play, they have the energy to match anybody on the Jazz. And of course the Black Mamba will find ways to torture the Jazz slowly and scientifically. Think they weren't a little motivated after watching Portland, their possible 2nd round opponent, lay a stink egg on Saturday at home against Houston?

See ya for Game 2 on Tuesday. Other quick hits from the Playoff Weekend

- How long did it take people for people to get flashbacks of MJ in '86 when Derrick Rose tore up the Celtics in Game 1. How long did it take for them to wake up and stop comparing the two? D. Rose (36 and 11 dimes) had a phenomenal debut but it said more about the Celtics missing KG in the middle. And don't forget Rajon Rondo had a nice game too (29 pts). That said, the C's are in trouble if Ray Allen doesn't find his stroke because the Bulls are gonna come in tomorrow amp'd up.

- LeBron James. Amazing. Game 1 just looked like a foreshadowing of things to come.

- Portland and Miami take the biggest L's this weekend. How did Portland get in a 30-pt hole against a T-Mac-less Houston Rockets at home!!! And how did Miami just look silly and young all of a sudden against Atlanta?

- Philly's comeback says a lot about Orlando not being ready for the big moment. They've been a somewhat soft defensive team outside of Dwight Howard (31 and 16 Sunday night) and if they fool around, they'll be seeing the Sixers for 6-7 games instead of 5.

- Chauncey Billups is still Mr. Big Shot. But if they're No. 2, the rest of the West is still below the Lakers' level.

- San Antonio isn't dead. Mark my words. They won't go down without a fight against Dallas. But they're gonna miss Ginobli big time because the Mavs just have so many weapons to account for, including your soon-to-be 6th Man of the Year Jason Terry and one of the best backup PG's in bball, Juan Barea.

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