Lakers' Bynum no-show in win over Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY -- Andrew Bynum, who was a dominant force in Game 2 despite the meniscus tear in his right knee, was a no-show in Game 3.
Bynum had four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and zero points in the Lakers' Game 3 victory.
"To be honest, I don't even really remember playing," said Bynum who played just 20 minutes after Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he wanted to increase his 22-year old center's playing time before the game.
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"I was just kind of out there today, not really attacking," Bynum continued. "I wasn't aggressive. I allowed it to happen. I allowed them to take me out of my game."
Almost as surprising as Bynum's point total was his shot total. He took just one, a missed dunk in the third quarter.
"I thought Andrew didn't get the ball, didn't have opportunities tonight," Jackson said. "They were double-teaming on him and rotations were coming. We just felt that we had to go with a quicker, smaller lineup because they were playing [Kyrylo] Fesenko short minutes and just coming in with their smaller lineup and their activity was something that bothered us tonight."
Bynum would not blame his teammates for not passing him the ball, however.
"It just wasn't my night," Bynum said. "I got my share of touches, I just didn't do anything with it & I think the game before I attacked a couple of their double teams, this game I just moved it every time."
Pau Gasol was also neutralized by the Jazz defenders who did everything they could to take away the Lakers' post game by doubling and rotating guys through the paint. After averaging 23.5 points in the first two games of the series, Gasol was held to just 14 on Saturday.
Gasol remained effective by attacking the glass, particularly on the offensive end, trying to clean up some of the errant shots the Lakers took from downtown.
"What I try to do is be aggressive on the boards," Gasol said after finishing with 17 rebounds. "I didn't have a lot of offensive rebounds or none, probably, in the first half if I remember, but then in the second half I got seven. I kept a lot of balls alive and gave ourselves more opportunities which is very important in this kind of game."
Fans give Fisher flak
Derek Fisher returned to the place he called home for the 2006-07 season and suffice to say, there was not a warm welcome from Jazz fans.
Despite the hostility -- Fisher actually got into a verbal sparring match with a fan seated near the Lakers' bench in the second quarter -- the 14-year veteran had his finest game of the postseason, finishing with 20 points and three assists, including hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28.6 seconds left to give L.A. the lead for good.
"Cash," Shannon Brown said as what went through his mind when he saw Fisher attempt the late 3. "You know it's going in. We just hope he takes more of them."
Fisher finished 3-for-7 from downtown, continuing his hot shooting from deep in this year's playoffs. He is now 14-for-30 in the last seven games of the postseason.
His defense was just as impressive as he was able to force two Utah turnovers by drawing offensive fouls on Deron Williams.
"He played a great game tonight," Jackson said. "He hit some shots, made some defensive plays I thought were very good out there on the floor. Just his tenacity is a factor for us."
Said Bryant: "Fish is being Fish, what more can you say?"
Suns on the horizon
No team in the history of the NBA playoffs has ever lost after leading a series 3-0, so with Los Angeles and Phoenix both up three to zip in their Western Conference semifinals series, the conference finals already look pretty set in stone.
That doesn't mean that a sweep is inevitable, however.
"They're going come back out in Game 4 and play a similar game," Jackson said. "Uptempo like we said they probably would play and they came out and scored a ton of points tonight, especially after we've played I think pretty good defense on them in the first two games. We hope we can compete at this level again on Monday night when we get this opportunity."
Utah starting guard Wesley Matthews certainly hasn't given up hope.
"We can't win the series by winning on Monday," Matthews said. "We have to get better and rest up. Lay it on the line again. Nobody's ever done it, but somebody has to be the first. Why not try?"
Zen Master's book club
Jackson was asked about the boisterous Utah crowd before the game and said he learned what to expect from "people in the valley" by reading Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage" as a child.
Jackson recommended the book, but wasn't quite as in favor of the fans. Although he wouldn't classify Jazz jeers as the worst in the league.
"You've got a whole contingent of Detroit and Boston and Philadelphia people that rank very high" Jackson said. "But for our Western comfort in fine hospitality [Utah fans are the nastiest], although Portland's got some people there that have shown their valor."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.