They’ve got a stellar cast of players, including the league’s newest MVP. They’ve got a proven coach who knows how to win and win and win some more. And they’ve got a perfect record through six games in this year’s playoffs. Life is good for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant’s Wednesday night started with commissioner David Stern handing over the MVP trophy and ended 34 points later when Los Angeles increased their series lead to two games with a 120-110 victory. Derek Fisher posted 22 points, Pau Gasol finished with 20 and Lamar Odom had another outstanding game with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 16 rebounds. There’s no doubt that the Lakers are starting to look scary-good, but the series now shifts to Utah where the Jazz owned the best homecourt record during the regular season. Carlos Boozer was in foul trouble early and often, making defense difficult for the Jazz all night long. Deron Williams led Utah offensively, scoring 25 points to go with 10 assists. Boozer had just 10 points in 24 minutes of action. The Jazz must now treat Game 3 like a Game 7 because the Lakers are simply playing too good to surrender a 3-0 lead.
2. Working their Magic
The Pistons lost more than Game 3 on Wednesday night, they might have lost their leader. Chauncey Billups left the game early in the first quarter after straining his hamstring and did not return and his status for the next game is up in the air. Detroit defiantly missed Mr. Big Shot against the Magic who routed the Bad Boys 111-86 behind a career playoff-high 33 points from Rashard Lewis. The forward connected on 11 of his 15 attempts, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc, scoring 12 of the team’s final 14 points of the first half. Dwight Howard looked Supermanesque once again with a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double and Hedo Turkoglu nailed three treys for half of his 18 points. Rodney Stuckey played in place of Billups, finishing with 19 points, and could be asked to fill in once again in Game 4. Richard Hamilton (24 pts) and Tayshaun Prince (22 pts) were about the only players to hit shots with any consistency which could lead to a tied series if the pattern repeats itself next time out.
3. Richard Jefferson needs his space
The Nets are going downhill fast. After losing Jason Kidd to the Mavericks, the franchise falls on the shoulders of Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter. Actually, let’s just make that Carter seeing as how Jefferson is having a hard time keeping his nose clean according to a report. The former Wildcat was charged with assault on Wednesday following an incident in a Minneapolis club when Jefferson allegedly grabbed a man by his throat. Jefferson denies that he did anything wrong and went on “The Mike and Murray Show” to try and clear his name.
It was actually Vince Carter’s birthday,” he said. “A party. We were actually, you know, all hanging out as a team. I was in our hotel. Actually, I was in the hotel bar. I wasn’t at a strip club, you know, three hours away. I wasn’t, like, in a casino. I wasn’t doing anything. I was literally in our hotel bar and I had an individual come up to me who was very rude and very disrespectful and, you know, an altercation broke out.”
Jefferson downplayed the severity of the incident.
“There were no punches thrown,” he said on the radio show. “They were saying there was choking. It was more of a getting your space. This individual doesn’t have a scratch on him. There was no mark. There was no blood. There was no anything. Obviously, [athletes] have a target on our back and it is unfortunate that these people would even do this. This incident happened four months ago. I wasn’t drunk.”
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Rashard Lewis vs. Detroit 43 min, 33 pts (FG: 11-15, 3FG: 5-6, FT: 6-8), 6 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl
Buzzer Beater: San Antonio is in a must-win situation tonight against the Hornets. Trailing 0-2 in the series, the Spurs have looked old, slow and basically unmotivated during the first games, getting popped in the mouth twice. Now the Spurs will have a home crowd on their side as they try to slowly climb out of the hole they are currently being buried alive in. If New Orleans wins tonight the Spurs are dead in the water and it will just be a matter of time, but if San Antonio can pull out a victory then you’d better buckle-up for Game 4 on Sunday because it will be an all-out war!