By Craig Kwasniewski
Pau Gasol may or may not have pushed Memo Okur in the back for a gave saving put-back dunk as the Laker won a very critical Game 5 last night. Here are a few thoughts from last night's game from what I saw from my seat high up in Section 316:
The Gasol Rebound: I was at the game and from my seat it completely looked like he pushed off. Call it a push off, call it a flop... I call it a case of the Jazz getting a taste of their own medicine. Carlos Boozer literally pushes off for every single rebound daring the refs to foul him out along the way. So OF COURSE he's getting away it. Deal with it Utah!
Kobe's Still Injured: A friend of mine felt that Kobe was playing possum on the back injury ready to explode last night. Well, he tried to send a message of "I'm Back!" with a few early hoops, but he's obviously still hurting as he wasn't dominating offensively. With the game very tight down the stretch, I kept waiting for Kobe to take over and carry the Lakers. He just didn't have any explosiveness after halftime and was looking to facilitate the rest of the game. The injury also affected his ability in the open court as he committed a ton of terrible turnovers. The Jazz were clogging the lane on fastbreaks, daring him to drive. Kobe wasn't explosive enough to split the D and ended up throwing away too many passes. The Lakers NEED a healthy Kobe to win on Friday.
Radmanovic, welcome to the playoffs! Radmanovic decided to join the Lakers in the playoffs for a change with 15 points (BTW - he scored a COMBINED 12 points in Games 2,3 and 4). There's a reason why Phil Jackson calls him a space cadet. The guy has been completely and thoroughly worthless this postseason, but it's not like Luke Walton's done any better against the Jazz (a COMBINED 27 in six games against the Jazz). The Lakers are going 4 on 5 in this series as these guys are terribly choking. And it's not like they’re making up for the offensive deficiencies by hustling on defense either. Trevor Ariza where are you?
Smush Farmar: It's hard to believe that a bunch of UCLA homers were begging for him to replace Fisher in the starting lineup back in March. He had a few clutch plays last night, but his confidence against the Jazz is completely shot. Where are those balls out drives? Where's the three point range? Where are the key steals at halfcourt? Where's the confidence?
The Steve Javie Effect: I seriously thought the Lakers were screwed when I saw that Steve Javie was reffing tonight. All of the NBA refs are influenced by home crowds except for Javie. The guy loves getting booed. Anyone thinking that the Lakers got all the calls last night are thoroughly and completely wrong. The refs favored Utah for the first 2 1/2 quarters (Kirilenko elbowing Odom AND getting the call, Deron Williams getting touch fouls in the 2nd quarter, Boozer running over Gasol in the post AND drawing a tripping call from Gasol) and they balanced it out down the stretch.
Utah is playing with confidence: If this was a nine-game series, I'd give it to Utah in 8. They are definitely playing with a level of confidence that didn't exist in Games 1 and 2. Maybe it's a case of Kobe being injured. Maybe it's a case of Deron Williams finding his groove (ever since the 3rd quarter of Game 2). Maybe it's the Lakers bench choking. Or maybe it's the momentum from two HUGE wins at home. Either way, the Jazz have the momentum on their side as this series moves along and they have a great chance at winning a Game 7 on Monday.