First, the as-advertised “few last-second reasons to hope:”
The Jazz haven’t played since Tuesday night – some might argue since part way through the third quarter before the game turned into a rout, too.
Last year, Utah faced the Lakers just two days after going through a fairly rough battle with Houston (don’t tell me you weren’t scared after Rafer Alston returned and got the Rockets back to playing well).
Even this past week, Utah faced a fairly fresh L.A. team while it was the Jazz’s fifth game in seven nights. That is a brutal stretch, especially when three of those games were on the road in the arenas of Western Conference playoff teams.
So, while the rest of the world talked about their impending demise, the Jazz were glad to have a few days to catch their breath and catch up on some missed practice time.
“The great thing is we had three great days of preparation,” Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said Saturday. “Three really good practice days.”
Boozer said those sessions – even without their starting center, Mehmet Okur, who’s nursing his strained right hamstring injury – became “more and more intensified.”
That definitely helped, according to Boozer.
“We’re ready,” he said. “We’re ready to give it our best shot.”
Why do I suddenly feel like singing Pat Benatar – you know, “Hit me with your best shot! Fire away!”
Another positive for Utah: They now have somebody on the roster who already has tasted and helped his team achieve postseason success this year.
That’d be one Kosta Koufos – or “Costco,” as Boozer lovingly or accidentally called him, not sure which – who helped the Utah Flash win their first playoff game last week during his D-League assignment.
Listen to the Jazz players, and they almost have you believe they believe they can win despite all the naysayers and sweep/five-game predictions. Even Mehmet Okur says they can win without his unique skill set.
“Why not?” he said. “We have great team, great players, so why not?”
And this optimistic outlook by coach Jerry Sloan:
“We have to play really a good, tough mental game to go at them,” he said. “I think our guys are capable of doing that if they get themselves ready, if we get ourselves going a little bit.”
And to heck with all the gloom and doom and “looks pretty bleak” talk that seemed to come from all corners – uh, including the corners of a certain Utah coach’s mouth.
“Forget about all the other stuff that goes on around it,” Sloan said. “It doesn’t make any difference if you’re in first place or if you’re in last place, that’s what you have to deal with everyday.”
And, hey, if the Bulls can beat the defending champs in their building, well, you’d think a team considered a contender in the preseason and even midseason could maybe catch this Hollywood giant sleeping and “shock the world,” too, as Deron Williams put it so eloquently.
No, really. Right?
Hello? This mic working? Anyone? Bueller?
Speaking of da Bulls, Sloan joking recalled the excitement of his first playoff series back when he played for Chicago, when the Bulls surprisingly made it as an expansion franchise in 1967.
“The first year I played in Chicago, we made the playoffs. We’re not supposed to even be there, but every day was a big day because we had a chance to get there.”
It was a “tremendous” time for him and his teammates.
“Got a big check for $444,” he laughed. “That was the most exciting thing. I didn’t know you got paid.”
OK, you knew this was coming – the UTAH Jazz are playing CALIFORNIA’s favorite team in the NBA playoffs. So, of course, you knew somebody was going to make it political. Yes, the logic-lacking blogger at the Lake Show Life blog who calls himself/herself? kareemabudladam is talking Proposition 8 in this link here.
One of my favorite parts of the post – as in the my favorite part to laugh at and mock – is how the blogger lauds Los Angeles folk for being open-minded, but then the blogger completely shuts down his/her cerebral faculties when writing about Utah and the LDS Church.
Huh? What’s this have to do with the Lakers-Jazz series?
We also get some pretty lame suggestions for new nicknames for Utah, which is woefully lacking true “jazz” according to this author.
Hey, everybody bring ‘em on, how ’bout your Utah …. Polygamists? Smiths? Stockton Shorts? Salty Lakers? Uncle Karls? Decaf? Romneys? Delusionals? Mountain Mormons? SLC Punks?
His/her post also includes references to John Amaechi, Brokeback Mountain and makes a claim that 60 percent of fans in EnergySolutions Arena were “directly responsible for setting the work of equal rights pioneers like Harvey Milk and Martin Luther King Jr. back years and years.”
Wow, I thought you were just being loud and rowdy about the Utah Jazz.
One reader liked my “Top Dogs vs. Underdogs” story that was a bit out of the box but fun to write. Evidence that I wrote it in the middle of the night was displayed in the Super Bowl III reference. I dim-wittedly wrote that Joe Namath and the Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts.
Technically, they did. It’s the same franchise. The Colts relocated from Baltimore to Indy in 1984. But it’d be like saying the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena instead of the Delta Center (an example that’d even work better had they hauled the arena to a different location and I called them the New Orleans Jazz, but you get what I’m saying, right?).
Anyway, the reference has been changed.