And you thought the first round of the playoffs wasn’t competitive enough. With the Lakers and Magic taking care of business on the road yesterday in their respective Game 3′s, the defending conference champs are each up 3-0 in their series, and with the Suns also up 3-0 on San Antonio, that makes only one series (Cavs/Celtics) that doesn’t feel like it’s already over … For the Jazz, it was the worst kind of loss because they really gave Kobe and Co. their best shot and it still wasn’t good enough. With Kobe pretty quiet in the second half, Ron Artest was carrying L.A.’s offense to start the fourth quarter, scoring their first nine points in the quarter. With three minutes left, Utah was up four until Lamar Odom‘s offensive rebound, two free throws, and triple put the Lakers back on top. It was back-and-forth buckets for a few possessions — including a sick baseline fadeaway by Kobe (35 pts, 7 asts), a deep three by Kyle Korver (23 pts, 5-5 3PA), another trey by Kobe, and a pull-up J by Deron Williams — after which the Jazz led by two with under a minute to go … You figured Kobe would be taking the next shot no matter what, and with the entire defense looking at him, Kobe hit Derek Fisher (20 pts) for an open three and the lead. An Artest turnover allowed Utah one more shot at the end, but Deron (28 pts, 9 asts) missed a three, and Wes Matthews missed a tip-in at the buzzer … Matthews was the one called out by Mike Tirico in crunch time (“He doesn’t want it”), but Carlos Boozer hasn’t exactly been Mr. Big Shot lately. He fumbled away one crucial possession late in the fourth quarter and missed a putback right at the rim following D-Fish’s shot … Utah’s gym is on the corner of Stockton and Malone, streets renamed for the Hall of Famers. What would have to happen over the next few years for D-Will and Boozer to get some streets by the mini-mall or something? … It’s pretty safe to assume we’re going to get Lakers/Suns for the Western Conference Finals. Did you ever think Robin Lopez would figure so prominently in such a big series? (Not to mention Channing Frye and Jarron Collins.) The Suns front line has to be able to contain L.A.’s bigs if they have a shot at pulling the upset win … The Magic are kicking so much ass right now, they’ve hit that point where critics searching for ways to criticize say dumb stuff like, “They haven’t been tested yet” and “They’re peaking too early.” Yeah, tell that to the ’01 Lakers. Yesterday was another Orlando blowout, as they cracked the Hawks by 30 in what is becoming the most lopsided postseason matchup since the championship game in Little Giants … Rashard Lewis was the star this time, scoring 22 points with 4 threes, while Dwight Howard added 21 points (9-18 FT) and 16 boards in front of his hometown ATL crowd. Dwight naturally got in foul trouble in the first quarter, but even when he sat down, the Magic didn’t stop rolling with Marcin Gortat filling in. They led by 10 the end of the first quarter and the Hawks never got any closer. Highlights from the ugly scene included the Hawks getting booed nonstop by their fans, and Josh Smith pushing a cameraman … About the only intrigue was whether Vince Carter and Joe Johnson could make it through an entire game without making a blip on the radar. Vince had 7 points (2-5 FG), while Joe had 8 points (3-15 FG). This really isn’t the way for Joe to go into free agency. He’s too good not to get a fat contract, but it may not be exactly what he was looking for … Saturday was the NBA Draft early entrant withdrawal deadline: BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, Penn State’s Talor Battle, and Florida’s Alex Tyus were among the notables heading back to school. Good moves all around … We’re out like Game 7′s …
Smack / May 9, 2010 / 7:12 am
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