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Friday, February 20, 2009
Never Trust a Mormon
I'll give credit where credit's due: in front of a rabid crowd at EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz enjoy one of the biggest home court advantages in the NBA.
Using that, along with some terrible calls by the ghost of Dick Bavetta and a possibly huge injury, the Jazz beat the Celtics last night, 90-85 in a game that normally neutral C's announcer Mike Gorman quickly added at the completion, "the Celtics got hosed tonight."
Boston (44-12) lost the heart and soul of its team, Kevin Garnett, in the second quarter when he landed after an attempted alley-oop and starting hopping around, favoring his right leg. He went to the bench immediately and then hobbled to the locker room as Celtics fans around the country held their collective breaths.
The first word was that it's a right knee strain and he'll miss the next three games of the West Coast trip. I don't want to speculate about the severity of the injury but needless to say, if he is out for a significant period of time, it completely changes the complexion of the Eastern Conference and NBA as a whole. Yeah, he's that important.
The Jazz (32-23) got off to a very slow start, as they trailed 22-13 after the first quarter. They closed it to 39-38 C's at the break.
One of the easiest, most cliche, ignorant things to say about any sport is a critical comment of an official. They're human, they make mistakes, etc. However, last night was a complete joke.
With KG out, Boston still racked up 30 fouls to Utah's 18. The Jazz only took two more free throws (24-for-31) than the Celts (19-for-29) but the damage was clear as Boston defenders could never figure out what was a foul and what wasn't. I'm all for giving jobs to the elderly but I think it's time for Dick Bavetta to be put out to pasture. I mean really.
Boston valiantly played well without KG in the third (27-22) but predictably, it all came crashing down in the fourth (30-19) as the Jazz made all the big shots and their white bread crowd went about as crazy as a bunch of boring, white people can get.
This was all done without Carlos Boozer, so it was nonetheless an impressive win for Utah and perennially overlooked coach Jerry Sloan.
Mehmet Okur led the Jazz with 19 points and six rebounds. Deron Williams (18 points, 10 assists) made a clutch jumper to put the Jazz up four late. Ronnie Brewer added 16 points and four steals.
Everybody's favorite Russian baller Andrei Kirilenko had 13 points off the bench while Paul Millsap (or as I like to call him, Ryan Gomes on a good team) notched eight points and 10 boards.
Paul Pierce paced the C's with 20 points and nine rebounds but his shot wasn't falling like usual at the end. Rajon Rondo got in early foul trouble but still managed 15 points and seven assists. Kendrick Perkins had a nice game with 12 points, 11 boards and three blocks. Ray Allen added 12 points and Leon Powe was great off the bench (9 points, 9 rebounds).
With two days off between games, Boston has some time to refocus as they try to figure out how they'll do this without KG at least for the next week.
Not making a move at the trade deadline (other than dumping dead weight Patrick O'Bryant and Sam Cassell) is looking like a bad decision. The C's are running out of healthy bodies. Tony Allen might be out for the rest of the year after thumb surgery so rookies Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens will have to play some minutes.
They go to Phoenix on Sunday, which just found that Amare Stoudemire will be out for up to eight weeks after eye surgery.