Frank Hughes
Wednesday May 5th, 2010

The Lakers are clearly much bigger. For now, they are much better. And after two games, they hold a dominating lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, defeating the Jazz for the 16th consecutive time at the Staples Center with a 111-103 decision Tuesday.

Size really does matter. The reason the Trail Blazers chose Greg Oden over Kevin Durant is because in the game of basketball, being bigger is usually better. The Jazz simply can't compete with the length and height of the Lakers' frontcourt, virtually every decision they make in the game a byproduct of that overwhelming mismatch. Los Angeles' interior tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 14-of-20 shooting from the field, 39 points, 29 rebounds and, most importantly, six of the Lakers' 13 blocked shots, which has intimidated Utah into either poor shots or worse decisions.

White out. Clippers owner Donald Sterling famously has an all-white party every year. But Lakers guard Kobe Bryant took it to a new level with his photo shoot for the L.A. Times Magazine. Clearly, Bryant is not comfortable discussing the topic of pictures that made him look a bit effeminate, backtracking to say that PhotoShop was involved in the final product. Regardless of the talk of the town, Bryant waved off that distraction like he has so many others and went for 30 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz once again made it a close game. During his late contributions, Bryant received from the crowd chants of MVP -- which could have meant Most Venturesome Photos.

Bench blues. What's with Los Angeles's second unit? For the second consecutive game, the reserves took over the beginning of the fourth quarter and gave back a lead that the starters had maintained virtually the entire game. This time, instead of actually taking a lead, the Jazz were able to cut Los Angeles' advantage to four points. Only, Lakers coach Phil Jackson did not show quite the same amount of Zen-like patience this time; he did not want to head back to Salt Lake City with the series tied. He quickly got his main guys on the floor and Bryant promptly helped L.A. regain control, using a series of nifty moves to prove that basketball and not theatre is his first love.

BamBoozled. Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer clearly is frustrated by the problems that L.A.'s front line is causing him. It cannot go over well in Salt Lake that Boozer can be heard on the television broadcast screaming obscenities every time he feels like he is not getting a call -- which is often. Boozer is having a hard time figuring out how to get off a shot over the long arms of Gasol and Bynum. Almost all his first-half shots came from the perimeter. He is starting to discover that he has to make quick moves to counter the Lakers' advantages rather than waiting and evaluating the situation. Still, he is not doing a good enough job boxing out when shots go up, part of the reason the Lakers had 18 offensive rebounds.

Does anybody have a vowel? Kyrylo Fesenko is doing an admirable job filling in at starting center, but his offense is brutalizing Utah's chances. Feskeno was 1-for-7 from the field, and four of those misses were point-blank opportunities. He opened the game with a missed dunk and went on to miss a series of easy shots, any of which could have gotten Utah started on a run and kept it close. There are rumors that forward Andrei Kirilenko may come back from a calf injury to play in Game 3, but unless Kirilenko grows six inches and stands 7-foot-4, it may not make much difference.

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