3 votes – Kobe Bryant. Make no mistake about it, this game was almost a shock upset for the Lakers. After leading by as many as 14, the Lakers lapsed in concentration midway through the fourth quarter, letting Utah hold a 4-point lead at 93-89 with four minutes to play. It was at that time that Kobe “checked himself in”, to use his own words, put this bi-polar Lakers team on his back, and dragged them to the W. The Mamba scored 11 points over those final four minutes and ended up shooting an impressive 12-19 on the night – needless to say, a significantly better shooting night that any effort during the Oklahoma series.
2 votes – Pau Gasol. Just a classic Pau Gasol game. Shot the ball well (9-15), made plays for his teammates (4 assists), and played solid defense (5 blocks, 12 rebounds). It was an ominous performance for the Jazz who didn’t really have an answer for him, let alone Andrew Bynum. Although we did get to see some action from Kyrylo Fesenko, or Fes as he’s playfully known. You might remember I bumped into Fes (not literally, thank God) last year when I was in Dallas. I won’t ever forget that encounter; it’s the only time in my life I’ve genuinely feared that another human is about to eat me alive.
1 vote – Al Horford. Suppose we should give a vote to an Atlanta player for doing what they should have done two games earlier in the series. The thing is, this wasn’t a really impressive performance by the Hawks – the Bucks just stunk. The kind of performance that lead Brandon Jennings to Tweet: “Lets be honest, if Bogut played we would be in Orlando right now”. For the Hawks, Al Horford absolutely stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points (on 6-8 shooting), 15 boards, 4 assists and 3 blocks. This capped off a very solid series for Al, which is encouraging when you’re faced with the prospect of playing against Dwight Howard in round 2. Yes, I saw what Orlando did to the Hawks today (and Al shot 1-7), but on Day 16 that hadn’t happened yet. So just run with it, ok?