Ron Artest picked the perfect time to start making three-point shots, at least as far the Lakers are concerned.
After going 1-for-10 from the three-point line in the first two games of L.A.'s second-round playoff series against Utah, Artest went 4-for-7 in Game 3 on Saturday night.
Artest finished with 20 points, including nine in the first 3½ minutes of the fourth quarter, and helped the Lakers escape with a 111-110 victory. Asked about Artest's breakout game, Laker coach Phil Jackson said, "You guys heard me before the game. I said, 'We know he can make them.' Three- point shooters run hot-and-cold and tonight he was pretty hot."
The Lakers took 29 three-pointers in the game, mostly because the undersized Jazz did considerable double-teaming when the basketball went inside to Pau Gasol , Andrew Bynum , Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant . " ... With their activity and defense going down and doubling guys, it was leaving guys open for those shots," Jackson said. "Am I always a fan of just shooting the three? A lot of times I think penetration is the best thing. But we were able to hit a relatively good percentage of them tonight."
Said Bryant: "The threes we got tonight were threes with our feet set."
Almost a goat
Artest nearly spoiled his spectacular performance in Game 3 by a hard-to-understand decision in the final 6.9 seconds. The Lakers owned a 111-110 lead when Artest threw an ill-advised inbounds pass.
Intended for Derek Fisher , the ball went directly to Kyle Korver after the Lakers' veteran guard ended up on the floor.
When Artest had difficulty finding an open teammate, Jackson would have preferred Artest use one of L.A.'s two remaining 20-second timeouts.
"We wanted to use care and caution on the ball," Jackson said. "Unfortunately, Fish went down on it and the pass went loose. We were fortunate they didn't recover and run-out and get something on the other end of the court."
Shaking his head and smiling slight, Jackson said, "We have to go back on the drawing board on that one."
In the final 8½ minutes of the second quarter, the Lakers outscored the Jazz, 27-18. "We gained traction in the second quarter and continued to play a much better game," Jackson said. ... The Jazz had two shots in the final seconds to win the game, but Deron Williams ' 20-footer over Artest missed. Then, Wesley Matthews raced past Bryant, who turned and watched Williams' shot. Matthews' tip-in missed as time expired. Asked about Artest's bad inbounds pass, Bryant said, "Those things happen."