Happy Cinco de Mayo. In an act of either irony or xenophobia, my neighbor has a big American flag out on his porch today.
Jazz 103 – Lakers 111
Is it possible to get blown out by single digits? Apparently it is because that’s what happened to the Jazz in both Game 1 and again last night in Game 2. There wasn’t a lot to like as a Jazz fan, unless someone who has been clamoring for a Fesenko/Koufos tandem in extended minutes. I may very well have enjoyed a sideshow like that back in December, but it was just depressing to watch them fumble over themselves against the likes of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. Even a clearly impaired Ron Artest looked downright graceful in comparison to the lumbering two-headed monster called Fesenkoufos.
Then there’s the curious case of Carlos Boozer shooting his first free throws of the series with 8:18 to play in the 3rd quarter. It certainly wasn’t for lack of attention, as Booz traded in his usual “AND ONE!” for a more family unfriendly “$%#@$#$@#$” after nearly every possession in the first half. Most of his shouts were clearly audible in the broadcast, but his frustration with the officiating wasn’t unique to Jazz fans — Jack Nicholson also added to the spectacle with a profanity-laced tirade that would have made Col. Jessep blush. Foul or not, Boozer further solidified his position as one of the most-blocked players in the league, getting swatted 6 times on the night.
Boozer’s frustration led to double technicals with Pau Gasol in one of the all-time great Soft Scuffles in the history of the NBA. One commenter in the Daily Dime chat asked for a poll comparing the relative softness of Pau, Booz, and wet 1-ply tissue paper. Tissue paper came in third.
On the other side of the toughness spectrum, the only bright spots for the Jazz come from the play of Paul Millsap and Ronnie Price. Millsap dominated Ron Artest to the tune of 26 points on just 17 shots to go along with 11 rebounds. Ronnie Price meanwhile continued to be the spark that fuels the Jazz comeback. In a repeat of Game 1, just as the Jazz got within knocking distance down 4 points in the 4th quarter, Price returned to the bench and the Jazz sputtered to the finish. Don’t get me wrong, Price is no Deron Williams, but there are a few games each year when Price’s speed and toughness give opponents fits. For some reason he seems to be able to disrupt the Lakers second unit. I would have appreciated a few more minutes of the Price experiment, just to see how it goes, you know? Let’s ride or die with the guy when he has it going, just one time.
Game 3 is Saturday and the Jazz are going to need every minute of it to pull themselves together. I expect a very different showing as the series returns to Utah. I also expect very large reproductions/manipulations of those photos of Kobe Bryant to be displayed prominently in the arena. Don’t disappoint me, Jazz fans.