Well, guess what?
The Lakers $12 million dollar head coach made a serious miscalculation. After the starters had ended both the second and third quarters with an eight-point margin, he put in the reserves to begin the fourth quarter.
Then Phil Jackson sat back calmly and watched his reserves go on an 0-for-9 binge as the Jazz not only cut the Lakers lead but took over the game. It was under seven minutes when he finally put Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher back in the game.
Here they had built a lead. Now Jackson was asking them to go in the game cold and build another lead against a team that was suddenly hot.
So much for the vacation, the siesta, or the intermission as one writer had put it.
The Lakers not only had to work to try to win a game that they already had won. But Bryant, Gasol and Lamar Odom had to work doubly hard to get back adrenalin and their swagger back and overcome a four-point deficit.
No vacation, no siesta, no intermission, and not even a nap in the Lakers 104-99 nail-biter over the Jazz.
Jackson’s coaching style fit perfectly with the Bulls, the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers and even last year’s championship team. But this year, the team is much different.
The Lakers bench has been inconsistent all year. Although they responded in Oklahoma City to close out the Thunder, Jackson should have anticipated his up-and-down bench would have a letdown especially after playing decently in the first half.
Jackson also knows that Ron Artest has not come through on the offensive end like Trevor Ariza did in last year’s playoffs. The Lakers are essentially playing with four guys on offense. And those four should not have been asked to rebuild a lead that the bench had blown.
Jackson proponents will say that Bryant came through in the end and won the game because of the extra rest he got in the fourth quarter. But would the Lakers even have needed Bryant to come through had Jackson put all the starters back in earlier?
Hopefully, Game Two will see the bench turnaround, especially on defense, and Artest, who is 6-for-34 from beyond the arc in the playoffs, do a huge about-face on offense.