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Smack / May 1, 2010 / 6:22 am

Lakers, Jazz advance to 2nd-round matchup; Hawks force Game 7

It truly feels like the playoffs now. And not because three of the four conference semifinal matchups are set, or because we’ve got our first Game 7 on the horizon, or because the “Just Happy To Be Here” crew is all gone. It feels like the playoffs now because Kobe Bryant has unleashed the bottom-teeth scowl on a full-time basis … Kobe (32 pts) was bearing his teeth all throughout last night’s Lakers/Thunder Game 6 in Oklahoma City, like when he stuck a fadeaway with four seconds left in the first half to put L.A. up by six at the break, then ran off 13 of the Lakers’ first 15 points of the second half. The champs led by as much as seven in the fourth quarter before OKC came back, taking the lead on a Russell Westbrook and-one, then going up three on one of Kevin Durant‘s rare buckets (more on that later). Kobe scored to make it a one-point game, and with 18 seconds left, L.A. got the ball back with a chance to end it … So you already know who’s getting the ball. Working against Westbrook, Kobe got to his spot and got off his jumper. Brick. But before Thunder fans could even celebrate, Pau Gasol (9 pts, 18 rebs) snuck in and tipped in the miss with 0.5 on the clock. Westbrook’s last-ditch three didn’t go, and that was it … Nice try with the “blue-out” by Thunder fans, but it came off looking too much like a corporate retreat or something. It was like 20,000 Wal-Mart employees came to the game after their shift … Guarded by Kobe like he was in Game 5, Westbrook (21 pts, 9 asts, 3 stls) found it harder to score and at times his shot selection was just bad. But you couldn’t really blame Westbrook for forcing the issue when Durant (26 pts, 5-23 FG, 14-15 FT) couldn’t buy a bucket against Ron Artest. Now the hardest part for Artest is over until/unless L.A. makes the Finals and he’s got to guard LeBron. Otherwise, KD was the toughest assignment he’s going to draw in these playoffs … And why’s that? Because Carmelo and the Nuggets are done. Trying to stay alive in Game 6 on the road, Denver still didn’t have Nene, which hurt them in particular because Carlos Boozer played like he had a monster inside him. Booz posted 22 points and 20 boards, but during Utah’s biggest stretch of the game they were leaning on Paul Millsap. The score was tied early in the fourth quarter when Millsap (21 pts, 11 rebs) check in, and as ‘Melo would put it later in the press conference, he just kept getting and-ones. That coincided with a two-minute stretch where the Nuggets went 0-for-5, got two technicals and a couple of turnovers, and they never recovered after that … Like Durant, Carmelo’s season finale was tough and will give him a lot to think about over the summer. The Jazz threw a combination of C.J. Miles and Wes Matthews at ‘Melo, who went 6-for-22 and finished with 20 points … If only Isiah Thomas were still around. He could’ve helped free-agent-to-be Joey Graham flip last night’s 21-point, 10-board effort into a four-year, $20 million contract this summer … The Bucks were at home with a chance to finish off the Hawks, but they got completely shut down. Not a good sign when you start off the third quarter with an eight-minute scoreless drought, or when Carlos Delfino (20 pts) is the only guy who shows up offensively; that adds up to scoring below 70 for the game … Jamal Crawford‘s first game after winning Sixth Man of the Year was terrible, but last night he rediscovered his stroke and put up 24 points. If Crawford had been playing at his normal level this whole series, we’re probably not even talking about a Game 7. Since Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has to stick Joe Johnson and/or Josh Smith depending on who’s hot, anybody else Scott Skiles can throw on Crawford is either too short, too slow, or can’t handle his craftiness with the ball. If he comes out knocking down shots in Game 7, the Hawks win … Andrew Bogut looked like Colonel Sanders with that white suit. Bad decision all around. Rick Pitino can only barely pull off the Diddy white party look; and Bogut isn’t Rick Pitino … We’re out like KD and ‘Melo …

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  • the cynic

    Nice box out by Ibaka

    Lakers in 5
    Spurs in 6
    Cavs in 7
    Magic in 5

  • YW

    had thunders traded for camby down the strech, they could’ve handled the lakers……

    plus, now the billups hype has got to stop, how is he any better than AI? a couple of games in the regular season, that’s about it. Last year they went far only because they didn’t play a quality opponent until they got the the conference finals.

  • sh!tfaced

    dallas and denver, supposedly the biggest threats to their ‘chip defense are history.

    if by some chance you hadn’t seen how well the spurs and jazz have been playing, you’d think lakers’ road back to the ‘chip just got paved for them.

    as much as i love the college ball like energy in the ford center, that okc “blue-out” kinda looked more like they were having auditions for american idol or something…

  • Rafa23

    artest played solid defense, but its not like durant missed so many shots because of him. mostly shots he usually makes easily.

  • the_don_mega

    @Rafa23 – agree… ron-ron played okay defense on the kid… but cat just missed shots… shots he usually makes… cat just felt the pressure… he should build up on the experience and get better next year… and we all know he gon’ be better…

  • That’s What’s Up

    Look for Durant to crush everyone next year. he’s gotta sit there for the next 6 months thinking about 5-23 and a lucky Gasol tip-in. Any one of those 18 misses would have been the difference

  • len-e

    that thunder team was amazing. at times though, collison looked like he just didn’t belong… (just saying)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Royal

    Gasol’s tip in was not luck bro he crashed the boards while everyone else was ball watching

  • baron

    Imagine if the Thunder were lucky enough to land Chris Bosh…

  • QQ

    Lakers in 6
    Suns in 6
    Celts in 7
    Magic in 5

    And didn’t watch much of the Nugs series, but from an outsider looking at those games, it feels like we all got this ‘Melo is a scoring machine but a bonehead who can’t lead his team’ feeling all over again, that label he has been carrying since THE DAY HE STARTED IN THE NBA. Daamn. Maybe those Melo haters know what theyre saying after all.

  • ab_40

    suns in 6 hahahahahaha you’re funny.

    you can’t put this on melo’s shoulders alone that team plays on emotion and if the team isn’t acting as 1 they’re gonna lose. There were to many unidentified roles on that nuggets team therefore the O wasn’t flowing. Utah outsmarted them by a mile and destroyed what was left of their D. They need another big this summer and maybe they can trade J.R. for a courtney lee type player who plays D shuts up and does his thing when needed. J.R. Smith is just a frustration waiting to happen too bad because he’s very talented.

    Celtics Cavs… Can’t wait

  • The Other Aj

    Couple of items from last nights games…

    1. OKC was actually upset because they thought they could upset the Lakers. Interesting moving forward in the future. They are going to be serious…

    2. Chauncy has hit the point in his career (like Garnett) where he is becoming a shell of his former self. He was forcing way too many shots in that series, like he was trying to prove that he is still as good as DWill. Well he isnt…

    3. Denver should serious consider becoming players in the free agent market this summer. They need a big man who can score. Kmart, Birdman, Nene are pretty much the same guy. With Amare, Dirk (possibly), Boozer, Bosh…they need a legitimate big man who can score and take some pressure off Melo.

    4. The Hawks showed last night when they want to be they are the better team…

  • QQ

    @ ab_40:

    You like that huh?

    The Suns will win the championship.

    Nash will average 55 apg

    Amare will break the backboard everytime he dunks.

    G-Hill will average 50 ppg

    J-Rich will do an in game 720.

    I’m funny? TELL ME MORE!!!!!!!

  • deron williams’ sideburns

    no mention of how jr smith, melo and kmart all acted like the complete and utter punks they are in the last 2 minutes of the game last night while chauncey was trying to cut the lead? if i was coaching those three idiots and saw them acting like that i would have taken them right out of the game. not even trying to get over half and acting like it was all over only down 9 with over a minute to go? i’ve seen stranger things happen. i lost a lot of respect for melo last night.

    also, deron williams’ injury at the end of the game. the way things have been going for the jazz, that would be a devastating loss for them come sunday.

  • baron

    QQ – you are forgetting the in-game 1080 dunk that Tony Hawk will do from the halfpipe at halfcourt. Nash with the assist.

  • LakeShow84

    What happend Denver fans??

    Man the post season just got a lot sweeter..

    Heres to Phoenix pullin an upset! lol

  • Mikey F Baby

    The Nuggets have no cap space. If I’m correct K-Mart and Nene are locked into huge contracts. They can’t afford another big man. That’s why they dumped Camby for a sack of marbles. i dunno how they’re going to improve next year.

    And as for Gasol’s tip in, I blame Collison’s dumbass for standing there and looking when he should have been going after the most important rebound of the year. Lucky for the Thunder they have 1st rounders and cap space. Can’t wait til next year.

  • http://www.sportsenemy.com seyen541

    I like the new shirt for the Lakers vs. Jazz series by SportsEnemy JAZZ have NO RHYTHM

    hilarious!! :D

  • Ian

    lakeshow
    isnt it the other way the spurs are gonna pull the upset
    remember who the 7th seed is

  • http://www.slcdunk.com AllthatJazz / Amar

    Jazz won – it was not pretty; but neither will the Lakers series be. Nuggets are not a likable team unless you love undisciplined guys who pout when things are going poorly, but show their nipples when they are getting dunks. (How can you be a fan of this team, if you don’t live in the area they play in?) Maybe you just love Nike shoes so much that you love the Nuggets out of loyalty.

    This is not a basketball team, they need to smarten up and recognize that talent doesn’t get you a ring alone. Melo did his best. He was a best. Billups tried and did as well as anyone can be expect to. Afflalo was everything they needed from him (efficiency on offense, and sold defense). With so much talent (JR, Nene, etc) on the team, how did they manage to lose to a Jazz team that was playing without two starters — or homecourt?

    The nuggets found a way.

  • mang

    Last night was the fastest I have ever gone from extremely happy to pissed off after seeing Pau’s tip-in. I can guarantee you the thunder will be practicing their box outs all day and everyday from now on.

    two savvy plays:

    1) Fisher playing lineman and setting two moving screens. I guess the refs only call it if the screener moves laterally.

    2) The last possession where Artest was grabbing and holding Durant to deny him the ball

    Great series though. The Lakers are going to FEAST on Utah. I think it goes 5 games max. At least seeing Boozer get dominated will make me happy. Here’s hoping that the Spurs beat the Suns and they at least wear down LA enough for Cleveland (or Orlando).

  • K Dizzle

    Point blank: George Karl coaches, Nene stays healthy and Nuggets still playing. Utah was beat up to the nines and if Karl was coachin, they find a way…..As it is, I’m not torn up about havin to face Utah cuz Fish got some inside info on DWill from their time together in SAlt Lake. Who the hell is guardin Kobe? and Bynum, Pau, Odom, Artest vs Booze, Miles, Milsap, and Fes just ain’t fair lol Maybe AK47 can get back
    Cavs Celts today. Lakers-Jazz, Suns-Spurs, Magic-whoever. Christmas in May

  • QQ

    That’s strange. I can’t see the Nugs fans who said that no one in the Jazz can stop Melo, so that series will be an easy one. And when some cats here like me are saying that the Nugs are boneheads who are entertainers but dumbasses (HELLO CARMELO), and when faced with a team like the Jazz who executes well led by a very smart coach, it will be an easy series FOR THE JAZZ. What did yall say? ‘CARMELO IS A BEAST, HE’LL TORCH THE JAZZ’.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Yeah, Carmelo is a beast. But that dude is a dumbass. Seriously. He’s the exact opposite of a smart player. Can score, but CANNOT make good basketball decisions. Ain’t a leader, and will never be one.

  • Charles Kirk

    @23
    How as Melo even shown that he is a dumbass. He is a great player and there wasn’t anyone on that Jazz squad that could stop him. I do agree that he has a tendency to pout when things are going bad and I do question his leadership but, he did what he could do in that series. I think that he was averaging a double double or close to it. The Nuggets do have some boneheads (K-Mart, Birdman, J.R.) Melo isn’t anywhere near on the level of them in terms of stupidity. And how can someone be arguably a top 5 player making dumbass decisions.
    Please tell me how you came to that assumption.