Lakers Thriving, Jazz Slipping In Clutch

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It was just four days ago that we noted how the Lakers’ 13-5 run was based largely on turning around their late-game fortunes. And since then, L.A. has already won two more nail-biters.

On Wednesday, they came back from a 25-point deficit to win in New Orleans, 108-102. Kobe Bryant tied the game with 1:34 left, gave the Lakers the lead a minute later, and basically sealed the game with his runaway dunk with 24 seconds left.

And on Friday, Bryant did it again, hitting three ridiculous 3-pointers at the end of regulation and then getting the game-winning dunk when Toronto stupidly sent the lumbering Aaron Gray to *double-team him on the perimeter. Rudy Gay did his part to help his opponent, taking six bad shots in the clutch and missing all six.

Side note: There was a video where Michael Jordan noted that he loved it when teams sent a big man to double-team him. As the big approached, Jordan would quickly go right around him, and basically the big would set a screen on his own teammate (the one guarding Jordan in the first place). Jordan was talking about post-ups, where he didn’t have the real estate that Bryant had on Friday. The Raptors sent Gray to guard Bryant 25 feet from the basket. Things may have been different if the more mobile Amir Johnson hadn’t fouled out, but that doesn’t excuse the decision to double with Gray.

So, since Jan. 27 L.A. is now 10-2 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Before that, they were 5-16.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Utah Jazz, the team the Lakers are trying to catch for eighth place in the West. After a painful loss in Chicago on Friday, the Jazz have dropped six of their last seven games, with four of the last five losses coming by three points or less.

Here’s a quick rundown of the excruciating way they’ve allowed the Lakers to pull within a half game in the standings

Feb. 25 – Celtics 110, Jazz 107 (OT)
Down eight to the Celtics, the Jazz began the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to take the lead. They defended Paul Pierce well at the end of regulation, but couldn’t stop him from scoring seven straight points in overtime. Down three with 1.2 seconds left, Randy Foye‘s 3 to tie didn’t hit anything.

March 4 – Bucks 109, Jazz 108 (OT)
This time, the Jazz were down 10 to start the fourth. They came back again, but Paul Millsap missed a free throw that could have given them a four-point lead with 15 seconds left in regulation. That opened the door for Brandon Jennings‘ game-tying three. Gordon Hayward‘s drive to win was denied by Larry Sanders and Enes Kanter‘s follow rolled off the rim at the buzzer. A costly Alec Burks turnover and a missed DeMarre Carroll free throw doomed them in overtime.

March 6 – Cavs 104, Jazz 101
The Jazz were the team to blow the fourth-quarter lead this time. They led by 12 with just over seven minutes to go and by eight after a Millsap bucket with 2:46 left. But Kyrie Irving sparked a 12-1 Cavs run, featuring a couple of ugly Utah turnovers, to finish the game.

March 8 – Bulls 89, Jazz 88
The Jazz seemingly took control with a 10-0 run to go up five in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Chicago answered right back. An Al Jefferson jumper gave Utah the lead in the final minute, but another one couldn’t seal the deal. Marco Belinelli then hit a 3 to put the Bulls up one. And though Hayward got a good look to win it, his jumper was way off.

Before this stretch, the Jazz were 19-11 in games that were within five points in the final five minutes. Now, they’re 19-15.

Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune has the story from Chicago

The Utah Jazz don’t have an open roster spot, but Misery has signed on with this team and is their most reliable clutch performer.

This time the opponent was the Chicago Bulls, their weapon of choice was a Marco Belinelli 3-pointer. But the rest? It felt exactly the same.

With reports circulating that Utah is on the verge of signing D-League standout Travis Leslie, the Jazz lost their third game on this road trip after they held leads in the final minute in all three. But after an overtime loss in Milwaukee and a missed layup in Cleveland, the storyline for the Jazz (32-30), as they struggle to remain playoff relevant, borders on the absurd.

“They didn’t draw that up,” Al Jefferson said. “That was just the ball bouncing their way.”

There’s a lot of luck involved in winning and losing close games. There’s still plenty of season left, but right now, it seems that the Jazz’s luck has run out.

62 Comments

  1. mike says:

    The nba/stern will make sure the lakers make the playoffs. Utah jazz doesnt make him money likr the la lakers do. Its a business. As long as they r the los angeles lakers, la is a huge market, they will pretty much always be in the play offs. Also, notice how easy the lakers schedule is compared to other playoff teams in the west…nba is rigged, has been for some time. Anyone who thinks im a “hater” is stupid…open your eyes, im just a hoops lover that thinks its sad that such a great sport is being turned into predictable wwe wrestling

  2. sports fan says:

    The team to still look out for is Portland. They could still sneak in through the back door and steal the 8th seed while the Lakers and jazz could be out.

  3. dj rgm9 says:

    Everybody needs to calm down,for the Lakers is still racing for the play offs!Nothing is easy for every team near or just above the “500 mark”,they try to battle and nothing is done right now.Lakers have to stay focus’d until they loose or win further in the play-offs.When it’s done than it’s done,give the Lakers credit where it’s due and they have a urgent winning mode with the back still on the wall!It’s not finnished yet!We are still waiting when Gasol can play back again,we gonna need him realy hard during the play-offs!I hope he’s ready on time and i hope also D’Antoni see this too and use him propelly because he’s a real play-off warrior.With Bernie B. the Lakers where already near on the 5th or 4th spot ranking,standings. Well let’s see what happens further.

  4. Big Al says:

    Don’t be so naive, stepxx. Stern never had any bias towards Kobe, otherwise he wouldn’t have been part of the Chris Paul conspiracy. The Clippers’ one moving part would have worn purple and gold and they could have been a lot better than this.

    The Lakers are likely to be in the playoffs anyway. They’re also better off against the Spurs than Thunder. The ageing silver team will not have as much momentum when Tony Parker comes back.

  5. genc says:

    i think the lakers are fighting for 6th spot, to play memphis in playoffs!

  6. samps says:

    It’s totally unfair saying that Stern wants KB24/Lakers in the playoffs, Stern is not the one taking clutch shots last few secs of the game and neither Stern tied the hands of NO players that they’re unable to shoot in last 6 mins of the game. I am a big Lakers and Kobe fan, but first I am basketball and NBA fan as these false allegations really sadden the mood. Kobe has been on top of his form this year and really putting up top notch performances. Ya gotta give the credits to Mamba…undoubtedly LeBron and Durant are awesome players but that doesn’t means that people would start saying bs ’bout Kobe, the performance he’s putting up in his late playing years is awesome and very few athletes can manage this caliber all the way down..Kobe is a legend and people pay a good amount to watch him and such nail biter clutch shots…
    .
    Vive la Kobe!!

  7. Lakerfan says:

    Conspiracy theory that the NBA favors Lakers is ridiculous. Hello!?! Chris Paul was scheduled to come to Lakers before Stern blocked the trade. I still don’t understand his reasoning. So then you theorists are asking how have the Lakers been good for so many years? Lakers front office have a knack for picking up Superstar players from other teams. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O’neal, Dwight Howard. I guess the NBA didn’t want that trend to continue with Chris Paul. Although it does go against the trend of picking up a Superstar Center as the ones I mentioned previously. Any way, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories because thats all they are theories. How the Lakers have made it back into the playoff picture. A bit of luck, hard work, and sheer will. Each Laker does his own thing differently but each Laker does his best to win. Metta and his magic left hand. Always poking to get a steal. Nash and his court vision, good ball handling skills. Antawn Jamison and his putbacks and backdoors. Dwight Howard and his defensive paint presence. Kobe Bryant and his unreal clutch last minute shot making.

  8. Lakerfan says:

    Getting more freethrow attempts doesn’t give you an advantage. In the case of Dwight Howard it’s the opposite. Thats why teams foul him. He did hit some key ones late in the game vs. Raptors but he shoots 50% or less. Way under a decent freethrower 70%. Only way Dwights fouls would help Lakers is if the other team fouled out their starting lineup(30 fouls). And that never happens. So stop crying about foul attempts. If Lakers made 70% of their freethrows, they would have a much better record this season.

  9. BigEZoeboyFresh says:

    All you guys are talking about conspiracy this and that.. Officials blow games all the time and if that was the case Lakers would be the best team in the league right now. If you don’t want to accept Kobe’s WILL To WIN, don’t even bother giving him his props for hitting impossible shots. Lakers went 6:15 seconds in the 4th quarter without shooting a single free throw or making 1 point against OKC, not once did i see a Lakers page mention us getting robbed that game after a good comeback to be, the game was 105-110 at that points easily could have won that.

  10. OMG says:

    SOMEONE GO CALL DAN BROWN HE MIGHT HAVE ANOTHER BOOK RIGHT HERE,

    Seriously why a famous brand like nba would make the so called conspiracy to get lakers in playoffs? Utah simply have a hard schedule and Lakers have one of the best clutch players in nba of all time.

  11. LakersGOD says:

    @not bias ENOUGH SAID!!!!!!

  12. sage117 says:

    the lakers are cheating. they some how rigged the basket. kobe is making incredible plays like mj. there must be something wrong. stern what is going on! lol….Hail KOBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

  13. not bias says:

    it goes to show that the haters are doing their job to hate on kobe finding a ways to criticize him now blaming David stern because the lakers are winning? here is the reality on haters they hate Kobe24 because simple his one of the greatest simple logic.haters who like lebron I admit lebron is good but if he turns at the age of 34 same age as Kobe can he play like that at the age of 34 kobe can still play at a high level like the effect of his aging is reversing instead of olding his getting young, has a killer instinct does not afraid to close the game,hard working practices 3 hours ahead of their game can still dunk can even play with injuries etc. can lebron do that?

    • kobedan says:

      hey even stern like kobe in the playoff come on man that 3 of kobe is so difficult so i think is not arrange by stern.. that was arrange by kobe clutch shot…

  14. Lebron's Headband says:

    I laugh at the people who cry at the freethrow disparity. Any team with Dwight Howard in it will automatically shoot more freethrows compared to the opposing team. It’s just how it is. Combine the amount of freethrows Howard gets along with Kobe and there you have it. Some people just need to put a bit of context into whatever they’re saying. Howard gets fouled nearly every trip down, correct me if I’m wrong, but Howard leads or is near leading FTA is he not? So it’s not question LA gets more freethrows than opposing teams.

    • El Undelador says:

      That is very true but the box score doesn’t tell the whole story sometimes. I think what many people are referring to is Team X bumping a Laker and getting called for a foul, but not getting a foul call on L.A. when the same contact is made from a Laker to a player on team X. Granted, many of those people(myself, a Blazer fan,included) are naturally biased toward their team. But when people from the Lakers’ opponents complain about calls after more games than not, you have to wonder if something is up. Sure, Hack-A-Howard accounts for some of the discrepancy. I think people are more concerned about the calls that should happen on both ends of the court that seem to be happening only on the purple and gold side.

  15. Kobe8 says:

    I seen the jazz games and they didnt try hard enough if its a conspiracy why didnt they make the Rockets lose they were 8th first the jazz are losing because they dont have the determination i agree some of the game looked amazing and i didnt know how they won but if you watch it Kobe took control and led them and thats mainly the reason their doing it.

  16. El Undelador says:

    Lakers have been playing great lately, but they’ve done most of their damage against sub-.500 teams. Fortunately for them, they have a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way, so they have a decent shot at making the playoffs. However, saying they can compete in a 7-game series with the Spurs, Thunder, or Clippers is wishful thinking at this point. The Lakers haven’t proven that they are any more than a mediocre team that features a top 5 player.

    About the whole Lakers-getting-reffed-into-the-playoffs business, I doubt that has any major credibility. Sure, the Lakers get better calls than their opponents many times, but that’s just the Kobe effect. What annoys me, though, is that the kobe effect works on a team that is barely above .500. Miami, OKC, and San Antonio are going to get calls because they are the 3 best teams right now. While it’s not fair that those teams get those calls, those teams, if any, would be the ones to get those calls. The Lakers are nowhere near the caliber of those teams, yet they also get the benefit of the whistle. Having a winning history and an all-time great on their team doesn’t justify special treatment for the Lakers this year. They are what their record indicates: a middle-of-the-pack team that deserves to be treated like one, not a powerhouse team deserving of the league’s utmost respect. I feel the whistles should reflect that.

  17. Kb24 says:

    If you don’t like Kobe, you don’t like basketball

    • Average Joe says:

      I’ve always favored MJ and LBJ over Kobe but I love basketball, especially the NBA brand.

      • Damien says:

        You don’t know anything about bball if you favor MJ AND LBJ over Kobe : Kobe’s game is much closer to MJ’s than LeBron. Definitely the same kind of players whereas LeBron is more what I’d call a physically dominating player.

  18. CanadianHoopsFan says:

    Poor David Stern. He always gets blamed whenever the Lakers win.

  19. Cheating > Jazz says:

    The Jazz, especially the Jazz bigs, have by far the worst fouls called on them. Last night Nate Robinson was already falling over when he barely brushed Favors…….BEEP foul.

    Meanwhile if you sneeze within 5 feet of Kobe it’s a technical. Kobe is amazing, no doubt about it. But Kobe Cryant gets the most ridiculous calls in his favor. It’s statically hilarious.

    All the guys who kiss kobe’s a$$ do nothing but accuse the Factual of being “haters”. It’s what they do instead of THINKING. (It’s ok, LA is well known as the city of duuumb, shallow people.)

  20. Herp derp James says:

    Jazz lose 4 close games in a row in which they were outplaying the other teams statistically? Lakers start winning with a couple miracle comebacks. The NBA wants the Lakers in the playoffs its pretty obvious. Very smart in making that playoff promise kobe now you have the whole league behind you.

  21. DANITo says:

    i remember stern is the one who stopped the trade of chris paul to the lakers, so stop saying the league favors the lakers. they favor the heat and okc for sure

  22. NBA Fan says:

    Funny how the Jazz have lost their last 4 games by no more than 3 points in which they were actually outplaying the teams statistically, after Kobes media attention grabbing promise. Not taking anything away from kobes amazing play lately but the Jazz have worked hard all season without a starting point guard and wins against all the leagues top teams. Its obvious Stern and everyone else wants the Lakers in so thats how its gonna be. Go ahead and give the Lakers the final spot so they can get swept out of the playoffs by the Spurs or Thunder.

  23. Dave says:

    Some of you people are really TRUE HATERS. Kobe has been playing on fire and out of his mind the past few games, because he is a great player, NOT because there is a ‘conspiracy.’ Kobe makes tough shots, and the Lakers have been playing better. Its not like the refs are giving them the game. Its true that teams don’t always get the calls they want, and that’s because it’s the NBA! Not every call is going to be ‘correct.’ I’m a Laker fan, so I dislike teams like the Heat. But still, I’ve been looking at how great Lebron and DWade are playing, so I respect them and give them their props. But with most people, when the Lakers win, it always has to be that ‘the refs made bad calls’ or ‘the NBA is rigged,’ smh. Just give credit where credit is due

  24. Who wants to see a jazz vs. San Antonio or Thunder depending who stays at first ? Who wants to see the Lakers vs Thunder or Spurs, even if Lakers do not make too much noise in the playoffs, I would rather see their matchups instead of the Jazz.

  25. might says:

    if lakers gonna win it all, that would be a real cinderella story..

    • Average Joe says:

      That would make for an interesting story but I don’t see it happening. Not this season at least.

  26. marcus says:

    Its not winning close games. Is haveing Kode on your team. the lakers are starting to play as a team.

  27. yeah huh says:

    the heat have been getting game changing calls this season and the last as well..

  28. BlackMamabaaaa says:

    Maybe the lakers shoot more free throws than any other team in the NBA because I don’t know, they get fouled more than anybody in the NBA? Kobe is one of the best players at getting to the line and not because the “lakerees” wanna see kobe put up 40 points every night. Dwight gets fouled literally every time he touches the ball, ESPECIALLY in the fourth quarter. You obviously haven’t been watching any of the laker’s games if you think they won because of fake calls, if anything there’s been plenty of plays were Kobe gets fouled going up for a layup or dunk that they don’t call because they’d rather let the team win a game rather than the refs winning it for them.

    • Serps says:

      and every time howard goes up for a layup or dunk, defenders purposely wrap him so he’ll go to the free throw line cuz they would rather have him shoot 2 free throws than get an easy dunk.

  29. cadroy says:

    Good luck to both teams,Kobe will be formidable if he reaches playoffs.

  30. LaHeat says:

    For some that think of these as a conspiracy, I suggest that you re-watch the laker games (hornets, jazz), True that there were some unfair calls made for the Jazz, but there were also from the lakers.

  31. bball fan says:

    even if lakers r losing or winning, theres always a hater. just accept it that kobe is just that great bball player enough said.

  32. Ali says:

    To all those conspiracy theorists:

    1) Stern was not the one who did NOT score a single point in the last 6 min of the 4rth quarter (Hornets)
    2) Stern was not the one who blocked Robin Lopez’s last shot
    3) Stern was not the one to hit the clutch 3s down the end of Raptors game

    • dattebayo says:

      I don’t think I am a conspiracy theorist, but I watched the 4th quarter of that Lakers vs. Hornets game and Howard didn’t have 1 clean block…

      • warren says:

        dummy. DH12 blocked Lopez dunk attempt in the closing seconds. The play before Kobe had hte breakaway steal & dunk…..or were u implying that a foul should have been called? psshh dummy, either way.

  33. Yeah says:

    It aint right, thats true. Kobe made some impossible shots vs TOR, but in the last 2 minutes TOR blocked him twice, stole the ball from him twice. Pure luck and always lakerees to give free throws, in the last quarter around 20 free throws for Lakers, come on (remember Boston – Lakers 2010 finals 28 free throws in the last quarter for Lakers, lakers had 47 free throws vs bostons 17, hahahahaha).

  34. chandler says:

    i agree with steppx. the jazz have gotton screwed over with calls in the fourth quarter and its like the oppisite for the lakers.

  35. Boge says:

    This is why the Jazz will never win a championship. They lack the killer insinct it takes to win important games. They have the talent. They have the system. They just lake the devotion, heart, fire, eye of the tiger. I blame the system there. It’s like they’re forced to play as robots.

    • dink says:

      lol dummy the jazz would’ve won two titles if it weren’t for that Jordan guy or whatever his name is

  36. boon says:

    speaking of flopping, is the league still taking note?

    • dattebayo says:

      They probably opened a little department to go over all the games and they found out, that there are too many floppers. As a consequence they selectively punished a few well know floppers like Martin, Evans and Barea and left it at that. If the league would accurately call out every flop, the NBA would get a worse image than soccer in terms of flopping…

    • boon says:

      it’s a star-driven league as some will say, but i don’t see much happening on this issue. the stars still do their flops. it’s just funny having all that publicity at the beginning of the season about clamping down when nothing has changed much really. except for some “no-namers” fearing being fined.

  37. boon says:

    i admire kobe for his skills an toughness but that flop in the fourth quarter.. that should’ve been beyond him. a sign of desperation late in the season, i guess.. recently, he hasn’t been practicing what he preached about not taking charges.

  38. W/E says:

    the last 2 games of lakers vs New orleans and Toronto really make u wonder,they were playing good the whole game and all of sudden they commit suicide in the 4rth quarter and lose games like this. this aint right.

  39. Game Time says:

    I have to give Kobe his dues. He’s shooting at almost 50% for the season and it actually is the only reason the Lakers are winning now. Not like in the past years where he would go 9-27 and get 30pts and the team effort kept them alive. As a Kobe hater I have been shut up by his performance this year. As for the Lakers, they still aren’t a playoff threat to the top teams. The last three games they’ve won have come by a bit of luck on. Josh Smith having a off night and mishandles the ball for a game winner. NOH going scoreless for seven minutes, TOR sending their center our of nowhere after Kobe. These things won’t happen with OKC, SAN and yes the Clippers. It’s still going to be a 1st round exit for LA, but they can try to win a few at home for the fans.

    • Mytownla says:

      Lol wow… So… how good does it really feel to label yourself as a hater? yes there are players that i somewhat dislike but i would never call myself a hater of any player lol what a ruh-tard you are. But i am suprised that even a Lebron cheerleader/Kobe hater such as yourself is giving THE REAL KING his props.

      • Witness says:

        @Mytownia

        Preciate that good laugh. Its been a minute.

      • Francisco says:

        real king what a joke, I am another Hater of the Black Mamba but I am not a hater of the real kobe. The black mamba is a fictional character whose image as a basketball player is amplified but the media,The real kobe is a good player who is putting his BEST stats even at age 34.am I impressed?just the age factor, But when you LOOK at LEbron AND DURANT numbers , Kobe’s are just ok

  40. steppx says:

    maybe you should mention the disparity in fouls……..MANY for laker foes, few for lakers. Same when bulls beat jazz. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like……but stern wants Kobe in the playoffs.

    • Game Time says:

      NO goes scoreless for 7 minutes, Raptors making very questionable plays and also shooting a third of FTs compared to Lakers. It’s either a conspiracy or the basketball gods are willing the Lakers into the playoffs.

    • Serps says:

      let me guess, Stern fixed it for kobe to make 3 threes in the clutch (one highly contested and another one he was double teamed)

      And kobes dunk too right?? hahahahahaha and dwight howard is always in foul trouble and so is MWP

    • Average Joe says:

      The Raptors just made very stupid plays down the stretch like, as Schumann mentioned, doubling Kobe with Aaron Gray 25 feet away from the rim. And Gay, aside from taking bad shot attempts, didn’t quite help on D on the play mentioned previously. I’m no Kobe or Lakers fan, but I’ll say this, the Raptors threw that game away with questionable coaching. I’d rather have Valanciunas finish the game than Gray.

      • Average Joe says:

        And props to Kobe for making the clutch three-pointer on regulation to send the game to OT. Great shot. And over Anderson, too.