Only one game on the schedule tonight in the 40 game and 40 nights that is the NBA Playoffs, but it was a dousy. The Lakers looked to go a perfect 7-0 in the playoffs while the Jazz looked to stay in the series.

I wrote earlier in the week that I felt the refs played too much of a factor by unfairly calling too many ticky-tack fouls in the first 2 games, negating the Jazz's propensity for defense physicality. There were still a lot of calls tonight, but I thought for the most part the refs allowed more physical contact which allowed the Jazz starters to remain in the game.

The Jazz led for the most part of the game with the exception of an 11-3 spurt by the Lakers to start the game. But halfway through the 4th quarter, the Lakers made a run and cut the lead to 3 with 3 minutes to go. With the series at 2-0, it's that watershed moment, let the Lakers take the lead and before you know it 3-0 and it's a done deal. Or hold your ground, make some big shots and force some defensive stops. The latter won out tonight, and Carlos Boozer who had been having a marginal playoffs to date took control,

Boozer made some fantastic plays, no question. But you also can't help but wonder whether the Lakers shot themselves in the foot on those 2 critical possessions. The first one, Kobe just slips. You figure, that'll happen sometimes, no big deal. But the quick 3-point shot with 18 seconds left on the clock, 2:20 left in the quarter and down 7 points was completely unnecessary. And surprisingly showed a lack of understanding of time and situation that you would expect from Kobe of all people.

By contrast, I liked how the Jazz were able to calm themselves down after being rattled and just run simple plays through their best players. The Jazz had just turned the ball over on 3 straight offensive possessions allowing the Lakers to make that run, the last thing they needed was to hurry up and score. After Kobe falls, Kirilenko picks up the ball and instead of trying a baseball pass down the floor, you see him gesture at Williams to come and get the ball to run the team. The worst thing that could happen was another quick TO. Patience as we coaches like to say,


Though the Jazz did win the game tonight, the Lakers proved that they certainly should be favored for each game the rest of this series, they're just more talented. It's unfortunately to say, but I think the refs are the only chance the Jazz have to win this series by not calling the ticky-tack stuff.

Now that most of you coaches are in the off-season, a skill development video you might want to take a look at is Kevin Sutton's DVD on 10 Drills For Player Evaluation. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.