Friday, May 16, 2008

Lakers Escape with Game 6 Victory!

A game which was a blowout for most of 3 1/2 quarters got really close at the end... so close that the Utah Jazz actually had two chances to tie the game with less than 10 seconds to play. Both of those shots were off though, and the Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 108-105 to take game six of the best-of-seven series against the Jazz and advance to the Western Conference finals to take on the winner of game seven of the series between the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets.

Though the Jazz may have lost the game, they certainly earned my respect in this series. Unlike the Lakers first round opponent, the Denver Nuggets, the Jazz never gave up. The Lakers took a double-digit lead early, taking a 33-20 first quarter lead. By halftime, the Laker bulge had grown to 19 points at 62-43. The Lakers kept the Jazz at bay in the third period, and held an 86-70 lead with 12 minutes to play. The Jazz trimmed the Lakers lead to seven points with 5:17 to play, but Kobe Bryant hit a 3-point shot and then converted on a 3-point play on the ensuing possession to get the lead back to 13 points at 99-86 with 4:21 to go. The Jazz then staged a furious rally, connecting on 3-pointers on five conseutive possessions during a 19-6 run to cut the Lakers lead to just two at 105-103 with 16 seconds to play. Kobe Bryant was fouled immediately on the ensuing possession and made both free throws to up the lead back to four, but the Jazz then scored a layup with 13 seconds left to make it a 107-105 game. Derek Fisher was then fouled with 10 seconds to play and made the first free throw but missed the second. The Jazz then missed both of their game-tying 3-pointers and the Lakers had escaped with a 108-105 win.

Kobe led the way for Lakers as usual, scoring 34 points (including 12 in the fourth quarter) to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Importantly, Kobe made all seven of his final period free throws. Pau Gasol was steady as usual with 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. As the late, great Lakers announcer Chick Hearn would have said, the last four minutes of tonight's game was "nervous time." Thankfully, the Lakers have moved forward and become the second team to clinch a trip to the NBA Conference Finals. GO LAKERS!


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