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Lakers 106, Jazz 92: One moment... and beyond (postgame video and analysis)

It's nice to be back, and even better to be breaking down a winnah!

Much more analysis and video below...

One Moment

At the 2:50 mark of the first quarter, the Lakers had a 29-10 lead over the visiting (and red hot) Utah Jazz. Through three, they had 20 assists on 26 field goals, evidence of what constituted easily their best stretch of ball movement in a long time. Meanwhile, the Jazz were shooting just over 43% and were held to just 67 points heading into the fourth.

There was a lot to like, yet the Lakers, badly in need of a win after a horrible road trip, found their once-massive lead cut down to four after a Paul Millsap layup with 10:48 to play in the fourth.

At this point, the script calls for Kobe Bryant to step up and rescue the Lakers, right? He'd drop 20 on the Jazz in the final frame, displaying on the day he signed his three-year contract extension some Manny-grand-slam-on-Manny-Bobblehead-Night heroics.

Not so much. Bryant spent the night fighting his shot (he'd finish five of 23 from the floor). Instead, it was Lamar Odom who rose up and grabbed control of the game for the home team. He scored nine straight points, starting with a three-pointer on the left wing. On L.A.'s next possession, Odom corralled a wildly inaccurate Shannon Brown triple, rising to finish strong over Wes Matthews Jr. for the and-one. He'd make the free throw. After the teams traded misses, Odom came back with another three, this time from the right wing on a pass from Pau Gasol. The Jazz didn't close, and Odom made them pay.

Nine straight points from the guy often criticized for not bringing enough offense. The Lakers were up by 12, and the game was never close again. Final score, 106-92.

Had the Lakers let this game get away after starting so strong, I'm not exactly sure what it would have done to their collective psyche. I know it would have sent fans into a serious panic. Instead, the Lakers had a big win, closing out a quality squad on a night Kobe struggled to score. Odom would finish with 26 points, 10 boards, and three assists. He was an absolute monster, and because of it things seem a lot brighter for the Lakers heading into Sunday's game against the Spurs.

-Brian Kamenetzky

Kobe's Extension Kicked Off With Assist From Teammates

The big story heading into tonight's game was the news of Kobe's three-year extension. Fantastic news, both for Kobe himself and the Lakers. Without question, there's ginormous reassurance accompanying Bryant locked up for another four years. But as we've seen with Kobe over the years, knowing he's in your back pocket sometimes means being treated (or treating himself) like a human security blanket. After a disappointing 2-3 roadie where team-wide contributions were erratic, it's become even more apparent a one-man show just won't cut it for a title defense.

Thus, it's kind of fitting the "Extension Era" was marked by a game where Kobe actually needed help. This may have been "his night," but it was hardly his night. 18 misses on 23 shot attempts, bricks growing increasingly forced as the night wore on. Yes, he also reached the line 18 times, but between the shooting struggles and five fouls, I doubt Kobe would disagree with me deeming this a largely forgettable performance.

Fortunately, he got a boost from Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, veterans and key pieces to what will hopefully emerge a championship puzzle.

Fish played his best game in eons, racking 14 points on five-for-seven shooting from the field and two-for-three from distance. His choice of shots, at times this season jarringly bad for a guys with Phil's never-ending trust, was excellent all night. Defensively, did he shut down Deron Williams? No, as the 20 points and 10 dimes make obvious. But he didn't guard his former protege the entire game and, lest we forget, D.Will is pretty flippin' good. In the meantime, Fisher got two steals and broke up a number of Utah's sequences with a well-timed poke. For all the attention (sometimes justifiably) focused on Fisher's inability to stick point guards, dude's knack for being in the right place at the right time to contribute in this particular way is pretty uncanny.

Brian heaped praise on Odom , so I won't bore everyone with a complete rehash. But given his scoring punch, it's worth mentioning LO's first basket, which doubled as the Lakers' opening pair of points. After Williams got quickly on the board with a drive to the cup, LO calmly walked the ball up court, then handed it off to Kobe just before the three-point line. From there, he darted to the basket and was met with a floating alley-oop from Kobe. The ball seemed to hang in the air like a punt before LO glided over to gingerly glass it home. Just a gorgeous sequence, one signaling a good night was in store for the southpaw.

As for Gasol, his nine assists fell just short of turning 14 points (on just eight shots) and 16 rebounds into a triple-double. The performance was often clinic of precision. High arching jump shots seemingly on a string while touching nothing but bottom. A slick no-look pass from the paint to set up a dunk for Odom. Subtle things like switching the ball from his right side to the left side during a give-and-go handoff to Ron Artest.

Prettiness, though, is what we've come to expect from Pau. What stood out most for me were instances of toughness. There was a sensational sequence where his challenge on Ronnie Price's drive forced the guard to give up the ball. One second later, El Spaniard's stuffing Paul Millsap's dunk. Even better was a trip on offense where Gasol was met by three defenders, one of whom (C.J. Miles) accidentally raked him across the face. Pau was clearly bothered, but maintained his composure and hit Josh Powell with a bullet pass underneath the basket for an easy layup.

"We don't need him to be Superman," said Fisher, when I noted the ironic appropriateness of Kobe going sans cape. "He's capable of it, but we don't need it on a night in, night out basis when you have the ability of the guys we have. Lamar and Pau, and the things they were able to do tonight. We need those things regardless of how well Kobe's playing, or how well Kobe's shooting it."

Make no mistake, to some degree, the Lakers are always about Kobe. And to some degree, they absolutely should be, because Kobe has earned the right for a franchise to revolve itself around him. But as far as the actual winning goes, it can't be "about" Kobe every game. That simply doesn't work, nor is that even fair to ask of Kobe if it does. Tonight, even amidst all the excitement about Kobe essentially becoming a Laker for life, his teammates -the reason he'd even want to stick around- were a big part of the picture.

-Andy Kamenetzky

VIDEOS

Phil Jackson (before the game), on Kobe's extension

More Phil (before the game) on Kobe's extension

Pau Gasol, on consistency, team effort, his near triple-double

Pau Gasol, on Thursday's practice, the team win and lessons from the road trip

Derek Fisher, on improvement, Kobe's extension, the 2-3 roadie

Derek Fisher, on the team win on "Kobe's Extension Night"