Game 3- Matthew Joseph Harpring is My Hero
It was a dark, emotionally stormy night in the SLC. The raucous crowd was filled with despair and their hearts had plummeted into their stomachs as one of the most magnificent, spectacular [read it the way it sounds in my brain: spek-ta-koo-laar] 3rd quarter collapses in Utah Jazz history unfolded before their eyes like a car accident in slow motion. A 4-point halftime lead had turned into a 13-point Laker lead, and the Jazz were building a brick house.
And then former football player Matthew Joseph Harpring checked into the game. In six minutes spanning the end of the 3rd and start of the 4th, the Jazz’s only resident Mr. Nasty connected on five consecutive shots, including one dunk. (Contrary to popular belief, it was not his first dunk of the season. I definitely remember him having one earlier in the season (I just checked; CBS’ Dunk-o-Meter indeed has him having 1.)) By the time he checked out, the Jazz had regained a 2-point lead. Yes people, Matty saved our butts.
It started out looking like it would be a DAL-SASesque massacre, with the Jazz turning the ball over three times in the first 100 seconds. But, 3rd quarter notwithstanding, our boys managed to hold it together, and for the first time in what feels like months, the Jazz looked like a Jerry Sloan team (the system is not broken!).
Having carried the weight of every single one of his teammates on his shoulders two nights before, DWill’s tank was on empty. In a game that was thisclose and ultimately decided by 2 points, he went 7-12 from the FT line and also committed a WTF turnover late in the 4th. But ultimately, it was Deron’s Dagger that saved the day and turned my day into a beautiful one.
Giving credit where credit is due: Boozer had a monster game–he was one point away from a double double in the first frickin’ quarter–and kudos to him for showing that he does have cojones and taking it to the hole when the game was on the line instead of taking jumpers. Most importantly, he had a good game in a Jazz win.
AK set the defensive tone for the game early, and was focused in on D–which was exactly what we needed from him (how I love his swats). Even better, he finished at the rim not once, not twice, but multiple times. And I really like what he’s doing with his hair.
Ronnie B played with enormous heart that resulted in the defensive game of his life in front of his dad, Sap came away with some beastly “how the heck did he get that?” boards (he and Carlos combined for 36 rebounds) and 3 blocks, KK finally stopped being timid about shooting and hit big, bright, beautiful 3s, and Jerry worked the substitutions like a master puppeteer.
Kobe shot 5-24 (yeah, he so totally has matured and trusts his teammates), and in the post-game said, “The referees aren’t really used to seeing [Bynum] bang…and once they get used to his game and the way that he plays, some of those [fouls] won’t be there.” I’ve got a newsflash for you, Kobe: Fouls are fouls, no matter who, what, when, where and why. I understand why Kobe doesn’t get that with DStern living in his pocket and all, but that’s no excuse.
Phil Jackass was an even bigger ass, complaining about the officiating [one example: “Andrew had two fouls that were bad calls to start the ball game…Kirilenko grabs his arm and he retaliates”–so no fouls should ever be called on acts of retaliation?] and while dissing DWill, claimed that the Jazz won only because Boozer, in the game of his life, “just ended up falling into some really good plays…made by other guys, Deron actually, but I think Deron just didn’t have the same kind of night that he had in LA.” I’m as far from a Boozer fan as you can get, but like I said above, give credit where credit is due.
Everytime Jackass opens his sore loser mouth, he makes me appreciate Jerry, and the way he’ll give all the credit in the world to his own guys and/or the opposing team while deflecting all credit away from himself, that much more.
When all’s said and done, this game came down to the last shot and easily could have gone the other way. So Jazzmen, I hope to see you playing your best basketball in Game 4.
P.S. David Locke, I hope that you really did go out and punch all those purple and gold-clad bastards in the mouth. Lakers fans in the ESA make me sick.