So I have finally had the guts to watch a few recaps and read a few Internet sites about Game 6. I was there along with Booner and we had a great podcast all ready to put together. The only problem? The Jazz lost. Bye bye podcast.
The video isn't the greatest but I wanted people to get a feel for how loud the ESA was. It was a great basketball experience.
Then the ball tipped...
It was the first time as a Jazz fan that you could hear a pin drop in the stadium. The place had gone numb. We were watching a car wreck and couldn't do anything but let our jaws drop and shake our heads in disbelief. It was an eerie silence that almost never comes over a home crowd in the post season.
It was quickly becoming apparent that our Jazz weren't coming with any type of playoff intensity. It was if they thought the Lakers were going to just roll over and let the Jazz win so they could try and finish in LA. The Lake Show had different plans.
I have no complaints about the first half officiating. I felt like the Jazz played slow and out of sync. They put themselves into a really bad situation. It was nobodies fault but their own. They were shooting around 33% which won't win any game. Especially against a talented Lakers team who was shooting well over 50% by the end of the first half. When Deron was called for that foul on Fisher's three pointer, the place went ballistic. I could only see what the jumbo-tron was showing, and it didn't look like a foul. A post game phone call with my good Laker buddy Chad convinced me that there was some arm and body contact. Whatever. I'm fine with that.
The second half was mostly the same. The Jazz kept feeding the ball to Boozer, only to watch him get swatted by Gasodom. Boozer's body language showed that he wanted nothing more than to get out of the game and not be on that court. He fouled out in the 4th and got his wish. He played nervous, beaten, and slow. I don't know what is going on in his life, but I don't care. There was no reason he couldn't have left it all behind on that court. He had everyone on his side. 20,000 Jazz fans wanted nothing more than to see the Booze Hound break out and get his swagger back. Instead, he broke the heart of 19,500 people that night.
The last 3:00 of the game was a site to see. We had to fight back and the only option was to let the 3's rain down. They kept falling as the Jazz traded a 3 pointer for 2 foul shots. Not a bad strategy if only they had started with 3:30 left in the game. Time was not on their side. When AK threw up a three from the top of the key with 24 second left, I threw up in my mouth, only to see the soon-to-be Frenchman drop the ball and get us back in the game. Later when Fish was at the line, it was like watching a bad soap opera. The once hero turned villain was about to smother any hope in the ESA by knocking down two clutch free throws. If he hit them both, it would be a two possession game. The first snapped the net as it went through. The second hit off the front of the iron. What? Who wrote this ending? Millions of Lakers fans in unison put their hands above their head and screamed "noooooo" (probably a lot more rated R words that we don't allow on My Utah Jazz). The Jazz weren't supposed to have a chance at this point in the game. They had been down by as many as 17 in the second half. And there it was, a 3 point deficit with 11 seconds left.
The crowd was louder than any public event of any kind I have participated in. It was deafening (and I was on the 12th row of the upper bowl, I cannot imagine the sound on the court). Deron pushed the ball up court to Korver who planted and squared to the basket like he wanted the shot, only to pass it off to Memo who was trailing him and pulled up about 12 inched behind the three point line. His shot clanked off the front of the rim. An offensive rebound got the ball back to Deron giving him a chance to silence all the critics and tie the game. His shot was off to the left as well. The final horn sounded. Immediately the ESA started pumping "Stop and Stare" by OneRepubic into the speakers. How poetic. That was all we could do. Stop and stare as a promising season come to end.
As the crowd gave our Jazz a standing ovation as they went to the exit portal for the last time this season, I realized that despite my homer love, my blind eyed views, my inability to accept that another team was truly better than the Jazz, the Lakers were a better team than us for this series. The Jazz never fully got their offense into the form that we had seen all season. The only player in my eyes who gave the series the respect it deserved was Deron Williams. He proved that he is a superstar in this league and any team he plays with will have a chance to win despite anyone else on the court.
Keys to the Lakers winning the series:
Derek Fisher. He is a savvy veteran who learned the Jazz system well when he played for the Jazz. It seemed as if he knew when and where the Jazz wanted the ball. His help defense was spectacular throughout the entire series. His story gave unnecessary ammunition to his teammates as they felt like they were seeking revenge for the treatment of their fellow Laker. He shot a great percentage from outside and stayed out of foul trouble in every Laker victory.
Gasodom. These two sucked the life out of Boozer. They gave him no respect and wanted to prove that he would have to earn every rebound and every layup. Nothing would come uncontested. They had Boozer demoralized to a point of no return after game 2. Anyone who says Boozer found himself and broke through in game 4 is wrong. He was lucky that game. The Lakers interior defense smothered anything the Jazz wanted to do inside. There were 8 feet in the paint every time Boozer touched the ball.
Matt Harpring. Great guy. Great leader. Too bad he just doesn't know when to stop shooting the ball. His ill advised baseline jumpers and missed layups cost the Jazz a lot of momentum in LA. He could have gotten under the skin of Kobe but never did so. He played old, tired, and sore.
That's it. I'm not putting Kobe in there because I think he played exactly how we all expected him to play. He was dominating. As an MVP should be.
Congratulations Los Angeles Lakers, you won the series fair and square. You proved you wanted this series more than the Jazz did. You didn't have any visa problems to worry about. You were in it for the long haul.
To all Laker fans: Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog. I really mean it. You brought a lot of fight and spitfire with you and were able to get under Jazz fans skin on occasion. You made the series fun for us. This is what being a fan of the NBA is all about. We do have one thing in common. We love this game. We love our teams. We are what makes being an NBA fan great. When the season is over, we are all the same. We're all homers for our team. We all think the refs are out to get us. We all think that we are superior to anyone and anything in an opposing uniform. I look forward to next year's postseason as the Lakers and Jazz solidify themselves as the NEW Western Conference Powerhouses.