Do the Lakers have the Jazz number at Staples Center? Well, yeah, pretty much.
On Tuesday night the Lakers looked mostly impressive with strong inside play and great leadership and shooting by Kobe Bryant to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series with a 111-103 win. It marks the Lakers' 16th consecutive victory over the Jazz at Staples Center.
Certainly, any questions about Bryant's health were dashed with a 30 point performance, shooting 10 of 22 from the floor and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. He also played 42 minutes, a lot for a player people thought needed some rest.
But, Bryant will get plenty of off time as the next game isn't until Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Paul Gasol was also exceptional with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Andrew Bynum added 17 points and Ron Artest had 16.
The Jazz got a good game from Paul Millsap (26 points) and C.J. Miles (20) and Carlos Boozer (20).
With about three minutes to play the Lakers had still not completely put the game away with only a seven point lead with about three minutes to play.
But Bryant hit a two and followed with a slam and it was clear the Laker lead would hold up over the last two minutes. Not that the Jazz gave up closing it to six with less than a minute to play. Again, the Jazz had to foul Bryant and he put the final touches on the win with two free throws.
-- John Cherwa
Lakers 103, Jazz 96 (Fourth quarter, 2:55)
The Lakers came out of the timeout with a turnover and C.J. Miles made a basket and once again the lead was only four.
But Paul Millsap fouled Kobe Bryant and he made both stretching the lead back to six. Bryant was seven for seven from the line at that point.
After a Jazz miss C.J. Miles fouled Bryant and there he was back at the line and he missed his first free throw of the evening but made the second and the lead was seven.
The Jazz then lost a good opportunity when Carlos Boozer missed a slam and the Lakers were back at the line on the next trip down the court. But Derek Fisher missed both shots but the Lakers kept things alive with two offensive rebounds before Ron Artest got the put back on the third shot.
But Millsap made a quick bucket and the lead was at seven.
-- John Cherwa
Lakers 98, Jazz 92 (Fourth quarter, 5:34)
The Lakers came out of the timeout with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant both on the court and Lakers fans were feeling better.
Paul Millsap got the lead to nine with a couple of free throws and then after a Jazz miss Gasol got the rebound to give him a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds).
Carlos Boozer cut the lead to eight making one of two free throws and after a Millsap layup the lead was down to six. Nervous time?
Jordan Farmer committed an offensive foul and a turnover and after C.J. Miles converted two free throws the lead was a very shaky four.
But Gasol, a steady and strong influence inside, made his shot and the lead was six. After a Jazz miss, Shannon Brown was fouled on a breakaway and Jackson decided it was time for time out.
-- John Cherwa
Lakers 96, Jazz 85 (Fourth quarter, 8:11)
Phil Jackson opened the fourth quarter Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, close to the same crew who gave up the big lead in Game 1.
And bad things started to happen Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Korver all scored and the lead was down to six. But Odom answered with a two and then after a Jazz miss, Farmar hit a three and the lead was back to 11.
Carlos Boozer and Bynum traded baskets and it looked like the Lakers might possibly escape the second team breakdown that made the first game so close.
-- John Cherwa
Lakers 87, Jazz 77 (End of third quarter)
The Lakers upped their lead back to 10 when Pau Gasol made one of two free throws coming out of the timeout. Gasol was 8 for 10 from the line at that point.
Kosta Koufos checked in for his first points with a bucket for the Jazz but Kobe Bryant answered with a twisting layup giving him his 13th point of the quarter and 21st of the game.
The Jazz turned it over on its last possession and the Lakers had a 10-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Of course, the thing that most Laker fans were thinking about was the start of the fourth quarter in Game 1 when the Jazz went on a 10-1 run against the Lakers second team.
Would it happen again Tuesday night? That was the big unanswered question.
Lakers 84, Jazz 75 (Third quarter, 1:12)
Pau Gasol picked up his 19th point coming out of the time out with a couple free throws. Despite some baskets by the Jazz the Lakers were able to hold on to a double-digit lead as thye clocked ticked toward the four minute mark.
Kobe Bryant silently upped his point total to 17 with a couple of free throws and a bucket. It was his ninth point in the quarter. But the Jazz kept fighting back with C.J. Miles hitting a three.
After a miss Bryant was fouled on the trip back down the floor and he made fourth and fifth free throw attempts in as many tries.