Last night in Salt Lake City, in game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series, it was the Utah Jazz who had the energy and it was the Warriors who were a step behind. The Jazz looked confident; the Warriors looked hesitant. The Jazz ran the Warriors off the court. Matt Harpring done brought it. And the Jazz backcourt held its own behind the spirited play of Deron Williams. Did we leave anything out? Oh yeah, the Jazz didn't lose by 20, they, uh, won, 116-112.
Game 1 was a back-and-forth nailbiter (16 lead changes and 21 ties) that went right down to the quick. And like a bamboo shoot to the quick, it hurts. The Ws fought hard all night and had a chance to take the lead on a three-pointer by Stephen Jackson with eight seconds to play, but the shot clanked and so did the Warriors fortunes in game 1.
An all too-common sight for the Warriors in game 1: Carlos Boozer all alone in the paint. Seriously, the nearest Warrior is like 10 feet away. Photo from espn.com.
Conventional wisdom says the Jazz want to run a half-court game and want the score in the 80s; the Warriors want to run a wide-open fire drill and put the score over 100. So with a score like 116-112, you'd think it would be all Warriors.
But like us, you'd be wrong. The Jazz outscored Warriors in fast break points, 25-19, by taking advantage of rebounds and turnovers to turn the Warriors running game against them. The Jazz outrebounded the Warriors, 54-36, including a 20-14 advantage in offensive rebounds, and the Warriors gave the Jazz the ball 16 times on turnovers.
Observation number one about tonight's game: Baron Davis is not 100 percent. It was, ahem, painfully obvious that Baron's right hamstring was hampering his mobility and his quickness. And forget about any lift -- except for that two-handed jam driving down the lane with 4:37 to go in the second quarter. At times, the Beard looked like he was dragging his right leg behind him. He looked and acted vulnerable and both teams seemed to sense this. The Dubs were not as cocksure and explosive as they were with Dallas and the Jazz were emboldened to take the action right to Biddy.