Gasol The Great
In his last 15 regular season games, Gasol had 11 doubles-doubles and the Lakers went 9-2 in that span, defeating five of the teams currently in the playoffs (Nuggets
, Jazz, Rockets
, and Bulls
) in the process.
Against the Jazz on Sunday, Gasol scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked four shots, and had two steals in the Lakers' win over the Jazz. Gasol was also 6-for-6 from the foul-line and the fact that he was able to get off to a hot start in the opening quarter was icing on the cake for Los Angeles.
Gasol accounted for 10 of L.A.'s first 23 points went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field (eight points and one assist) and also grabbed three rebounds in that time frame.
He was also the perfect closer, as he went on a personal 6-0 run with Los Angeles comfortably in the lead at 92-78 and pushed the deficit to 92-86 with 7:31 to play.
He also helped limit the productivity of Carlos Boozer in the fourth quarter by drawing Boozer's fourth and fifth fouls and only confining the bruising forward to a field-goal in the final 12 minutes.
Lamar Odom and the Laker Bench
It was a pleasant surprise to see Lamar Odom bounce back from back-to-back subpar rebounding performances as he closed out the regular season with only seven rebounds in his last two games.
On Sunday, he finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, and two blocked shots.
Odom also worked his way to the line five times against Utah after failing to attempt a free-throw against the woeful defense of the Memphis Grizzlies
last Sunday only getting to the charity-stripe twice versus Utah on Tuesday.
However the rest of the Laker bench proved to be questionable at best in comparison to that of the Jazz bench.
The quadrant of Odom, Vujajic, Farmar, Brown, Powell, and Walton were outscored 37-33 and outrebounded 19-14 by the Jazz brigade of Millsap, Kirilenko, Harpring, Knight, and Miles though both Brevin Knight and Matt Harpring failed to grab a single rebound in their 18 minutes of play.
While the Jazz may not have had that successful of a season, they are still dangerous in many areas of the game and the Lakers cannot be comfortable without prudent play from their bench and Sasha Vujajic.
Phil Jackson's Career Success In the Postseason:
With the win, Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson added to his win total of postseason victories—now at 194, the most in NBA History by any coach. Jackson is also tied with Red Auberbach for the most championship rings (nine) by a single coach.
If the Lakers continue to play the way they did tonight, Jackson's 10th may soon be a foregone conclusion.
The series between the Jazz and the Lakers will resume on Tuesday with Game Two back at the Staples Center with the Lakers leading 1-0.