In their quest to defend their NBA Championship, the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers saw quite the road in front of them. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led them past a very formidable Oklahoma City Thunder team, setting up for a second-round matchup with the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz were a good team, led by Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and a young Paul Millsap, but the Lakers always seemed to have their number as the length of Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom always gave them serious issues.
Additionally, an injury to starting center Mehmet Okur made an uphill battle even tougher. With Bryant leading the charge, there was no chance of sympathy for the Jazz’s issues and a tougher than expected series against the Thunder ended any chance of the Lakers being lethargic.
The team was awake and ready for the Jazz and they showed it on May 10, 2010, when Los Angeles emphatically closed the door on Utah’s season with a 111-96 win to complete a four-game sweep.
It was Gasol who really led the way on this night, scoring 33 points to go along with 14 rebounds, showing off his increased aggression that would serve him well later on in these playoffs. Of course Kobe was no slouch himself, with 32 points.
L.A. also got some nice contributions from their role players. Derek Fisher had 10 points and three steals, Odom came off the bench with 10 points and five rebounds, and Shannon Brown also added 12 points off the bench as the Lakers looked ahead to a Phoenix Suns team that swept their second-round opponent as well.
We know how this story eventually ended as a hard-fought series against the Suns ultimately gave way to an epic seven-game NBA Finals victory over the Boston Celtics.
In all, the road to the 2010 Championship was a tough one for Kobe, Gasol, and the Lakers. But when they had a chance to get rid of a team quickly, they did exactly that against the Jazz.
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