For the second time in this series, the Utah Jazz had an opportunity to break their 15-game losing streak at Staples Center against the Lakers but Game 2 brought them the same results as Game 1.
About the only difference in this game is Utah starting the game a little sharper than last Sunday. Yep, it was the same old story. The Lakers were in control early but allowed the Jazz to get back in the game in the 4th quarter.
But it isn't the bench's fault this time. Well, not entirely.
Phil Jackson decided to shorten his rotation in Game 2, which means no more than 3 bench player ever got on the floor at the same time. But the adjustment didn't exactly pay off the way he intended it to do.
Turnovers and weak defense allowed the Jazz to get back in the game and threatened to steal homecourt advantage away from the Lakers once again. Losing focus has been a season-long theme for the Lakers, and it looks like it's here to stay. It isn't something any Laker fan would want to hear when there are still 10 more wins separating the Lakers from their 16th NBA title (or a repeat if you prefer).
The good news is the Lakers seem to always bounce back each time the Jazz made a run.
But you just can't help but wonder if the Lakers can continue to afford letting opponents back in the game as they move on through the playoffs. I say no. Not after this series.
What's interesting about Game 2 was Deron Williams had a chance to exploit not only Ron Artest but Derek Fisher with his quickness as he aluded he would after Game 1. Sure, he badly beaten Fish a few times on offense. But after the Utah bench did its job of chipping away enough of the Laker 15-point lead, Williams seem to be a lot more concerned about passing the ball than trying to take over the game.
Last time I checked, Deron has the Lakers' weakest defender on him. Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest were killing the Jazz's entire frontcourt lineup on both baskets. Any other All-Star point guard would have easily started attacking the rim each time down when he sees his team struggling on offense. But he didn't.
So the only thing I can think of is Williams' injured elbow (or shoulder) is bothering him and is afraid of making it worse. If that's the case and Deron isn't at 100%, then don't be surprised if the Lakers sweep them in 4.
That said, Utah is still a dangerous enough team to get a win in Salt Lake City. The Lakers just need to take care of business a lot better up there than what they've done at Staples Center.
Like I said before, the playoffs will turn dead serious after this round. The Lakers will need to prepare for that.