One of the beauties of the Laker offense is it's dangerous ability to take over games in the paint or out in the perimeter at any given game. The Utah Jazz learned that in a very harsh way on Saturday culminating to the Lakers taking a prominent 3-0 lead in this Western Conference Semi-Finals series.
Most people didn't think the Jazz could solve their disadvantage in the paint against the Lakers at any level, but they somehow did by employing OKC's strategy of throwing a highly active and aggressive defense out on Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. It worked for them. Andrew never scored a single point, and Pau went 6-of-12 for only 14 points the entire game.
The two bigs had scored 72 combined points in Games 1 & 2. So allowing just 14 points certainly looks like a recipe for success for Utah in Game 3.
But not so fast.
The Lakers didn't win the top spot in the west for the third consecutive year, dispatched the highly-intense Thunder, and bringing a 2-0 lead into Salt Lake City by merely hiding behind their two 7-footers. They still have the best player in the league, still have one of the most clutch players in NBA playoffs history, still have one of the best defenders in NBA history, and the most versatile 6th-man playing today.
Take all that into account and a win is never guaranteed against the defending champs.
Jerry Sloan may have checked and re-checked his formula for Game 3, but he (and everybody else) never expected Ron Artest and Derek Fisher to have the kind of game they both did on Saturday.
After shooting 10% in this series and 18% against the Thunder, Artest went on a 4-of-7 rampage from three-point land en route to his most productive outing on offense in the playoffs this year with 20 points. Fish also put out his own 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting that includes a big bucket after a big bucket.
Derek was hardly on anyone's radar against any team the Lakers face in the playoffs. He certainly made everyone take notice of him now after that performance. Then again, he was probably on a mission of getting the last laugh after hearing a chorus of "Fisher Sucks" from the crowd that onced loved him for splitting his time with his then sick daughter and their beloved Jazz team in the playoffs not so long ago.
Not a single "Fisher Sucks" chant was ever heard again after Fish kept nailing one big shot after another right on the grill of Utah's best player. As they say, payback is a b!#*h!
Of course, let's not forget Kobe Bryant who continues his march of returning to his old form. He scored 35 point to lead all scorers which means that the Jazz still have no answer for him. Andrei Kirilenko returned to action, but even Sloan wasn't stupid enough to assign him on Bryant full-time. That leaves rookie Wesley Matthews to have the dubious mission to keep Kobe from being a factor again.
That alone is a recipe for disaster.
But you live with what you can get against the Lakers. Just don't be surprised if you get more than you bargained for.
Game 3 Laker highlights: