Lakers simply too much for Jazz

Published May 11, 2010 12:13 am
Even though Utah fought hard, a semifinal series win wasn't in the stars.
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At the end, when all the sweeping was done, it didn't seem as painful or difficult or agonizing for the Jazz as might have been expected.

Nobody died. The Jazz just lost, which was expected, falling to the Lakers, 111-96, in Game 4 at EnergySolutions Arena, punctuating a 4-0 series defeat in the Western Conference semifinals and finishing the Jazz's season.

It was the first time in the history of the franchise that one of its iterations was swept in a best-of-seven playoff series, but none of the players seemed all that humiliated or distraught.

"We'll fight to the end," C.J. Miles said beforehand. "That's what we do."

That is what they tried to do. Ultimately, they were, as Deron Williams put it afterward, beaten by "just a better team."

The closeness of the margins of defeat, from games 1 to 3 may have blurred that last fact a bit. In this fourth game, it was different: The Lakers led by 22 points in the second quarter. Over one sorry stretch, the Jazz were plagued by bobbled passes, crooked shots, blown free throws, lousy defense, and stupid fouls. But never a bad heart.

In the second half, they attempted to battle back.

"We hung in there and fought," Williams said.

But, think about it: The Lakers ... against a starting lineup including Miles, Wesley Matthews, and Kyrylo Fesenko?

It's remarkable L.A. didn't win in ... three .

There was nothing left for the Jazz to do but absorb their final loss and handle it.

Jerry Sloan had said: "It's a part of life."

A part of life to which the Jazz have become accustomed, losing to the Lakers three straight years in the playoffs, twice in the second round, once in the first. All after the Jazz's expectations had falsely blasted into the ionosphere following their reaching the conference finals in 2007.

The Lakers killed their youthful dreams.

It's not like the Jazz didn't see it coming this time, being down 3-zip, although they never completely capitulated to the notion -- until the end. They attempted to work their offense, play hard, put up as much resistance as they could. It just wasn't enough.

Maybe there was some comfort somewhere in that. Although, this isn't T-ball, where losers are winners, too, and Otter Pops are passed out afterward. It's the NBA frickin' playoffs.

But the Jazz played the Lakers tough, in the specific if not the cumulative, despite that aforementioned lineup -- being down two starters. Andrei Kirilenko made it back, but never in full form.

They discovered, again, they are fundamentally flawed when it comes to matching up with and beating the Lakers. They might have threatened any other team in the West, just not the best one.

The Jazz are not long enough, not strong enough defensively, to get stops when they need them. They depend on their offense, which Sloan admitted -- "Our offense has to play well," he said -- in order to keep up.

The problem there is the Jazz run a layup-first attack, an offense that is structured around getting shots close to the basket. Too often in this series, those shots were swatted clear to Magna, on account of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom.

And we haven't even mentioned Kobe Bryant yet, an impossible matchup for the Jazz. He had 32 points in Game 4, along with Gasol's 33, adding to his streak of 30-plus points in every game here.

Mix in the craftiness and cool of Derek Fisher, a player whose leadership the Jazz sorely miss in situations exactly like these, and the ingredients were all in for a sweep.

Truth is, the Jazz tried real hard.

But everybody knew their getting booted by the Lakers was written in the stars. It was never a matter of win, it was a matter of when.


hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at





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