An instant classic in Salt Lake City gives the Lakers a 3-0 stranglehold on the series against the Jazz. The 111-110 finish provided chills, thrills and spills, with critical action going down to the very last second. This was a truly fantastic game, and before even dwelling on the specifics, Brian just loved the spirit both teams brought to the table:
- Saturday night, the Lakers and Jazz engaged in 48 minutes of what playoff basketball is supposed to be. Two teams playing at an extremely high level, rising to the occasion to make plays down the stretch, and through the game generally. How many of you stood in your living rooms for the final moments of the game? Or were so wired after the buzzer you inhaled all the leftover Zankou Chicken still sitting on the counter after a halftime dinner? (OK, that's a little specific, but you get the point ... )
Any leftover fowl enjoyed by ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin would have been consumed over a discussion about three-point shooting. The Lakers' prowess from downtown wasn't just deadly. It was as crazy as the dude leading the long distance way:
- The outside barrage was led by none other than Ron Artest, who needed just seven attempts to make four 3s after needing 42 attempts to make seven 3s in his first eight games of the playoffs. Artest was so pleased with his performance, which brought a climactic ending to his Twitter feud with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, that he even talked a little trash in his postgame news conference."I was so happy that Coach Sloan had that defensive strategy to play off me," Artest said. "It got me going a little bit. Now we can play basketball the right way. No more gimmick defense."
Said Jackson: "Before the game I said, 'We know he can make them.' Three-point shooters run hot-and-cold. Tonight he was pretty hot."
Seriously, this was one heck of a surprise shootout being orchestrated by Artest and Kyle Korver. Just ask ESPNLA.com's Arash Markazi:
- The see-saw fourth quarter turned out to be a surprising perimeter dual between Korver and Ron Artest, which no one could have predicted considering Korver was 0-for-2 in the first two games in Los Angeles and Artest was 7-for-42 from beyond the arc in the playoffs. The two players combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter and hit 9-of-12 3-pointers in the game."I don't like going back and forth," Artest said. "I'll pay more attention the next game. I'm sure it was fun for the fans but we don't like to make it for the fans."
Artest and Korver were able to have fun during the game basically because neither defense expected either player to make much of an impact. In fact, the Jazz wanted Artest to shoot from the outside so much they basically pretended as if he were invisible once he wandered past the arc.
Michael Black (Deseret News) on Andrei Kirilenko producing upon his return to the lineup.
Bresnahan (LAT), on Artest and Phil Jackson mending Twitter-Gate fences.
Steve Luhm (SLT) on Artest getting his groove back.
COLUMNS AND BLOGS
J.A. Adande (ESPN.com) says Artest is back, baby!
Andrew Aragon (DN) expresses Wes Matthews' heartbreak.
DexterFishmore (Silver Screen and Roll) can barely believe his eyes actually witnessed this incredible game.
Paul Forrester (Sports Illustrated) has a detailed breakdown of the action.
Gordon Monson (SLT) thinks the close call makes the loss even more painful for the Jazz.
Bill Plaschke (LAT) thinks the fans' rude treatment of former Jazz-ian Derek Fisher reveals an ugly hypocrisy.
Darius Soriano (Forum Blue and Gold) seconds my "instant classic" label.
Mark Whicker (OCR) reminds us Derek Fisher hitting big postseason shots is exactly what the script traditionally entails.
Mark Medina (Lakers Blog) was impressed by the Lakers' composure and resolve during the final minutes.