Around the Rim: Now that was some smooth Jazz styling



Carlos Boozer is at the edge of his
first conference finals appearance.

1. The City is becoming a ghost town
After the Warriors eliminated the Mavericks from the playoffs, the Golden State faithful celebrated to a point that even Joakim Noah thought was a bit over the top. Well, after the Warriors lost Game 4 to fall down 3-1 against the Jazz, the largest crowd to ever see a basketball game in the state of California (20,679 to be exact) reacted as if they had just seen their precious Warriors for the last time this season. And they were right. Golden State is a completely different team at home than they are on the road and in Game 5 the supportive sea of yellow that cheers insistently for the Warriors’ excessively ridiculous 3-point attempts will now become a baby blue lagoon of venom and hate for any and all outsiders. Especially Jason Richardson after he delivered a hard, flagrant foul to Mehmet Okur in the late moments of the game that got him sent to the showers a bit early. But it didn’t really matter at that point; Utah already had the game well in hand and J-Rich was having a horrendous shooting game (3-12 FG) anyways. And after mesmerizing the nation with a dunk of John Starks over Michael Jordan or Kevin Johnson over Hakeem Olajuwon proportions, Baron Davis also struggled (6-16 FG) when it came time to draw the series even. Guess the motivation of having Jessica Alba in the crowd has to wear off at some point.

2. No mo’ “fo’ fo’ fo'”

Remember the Luol Deng that exploded onto the postseason scene during Chicago’s first round sweep of the defending champion Heat? Well, after virtually disappearing in the first two games of the Pistons/Bulls series, it seems safe to say that Deng is back on track and Chicago can finally remember how it feels to win because of it. After putting up 21 points and 14 rebounds in Game 3, Deng had another outstanding performance with a game-high 25 points to go along with a baker’s dozen off the glass. That’s 13 for all you non-pastry chefs out there. But Detroit still has a 3-1 advantage in the series and it is doubtful that starters Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Chris Webber and Richard Hamilton have a repeat of their pitiful shooting performance (13-of-45 FG) when Game 5 takes this rivalry back to the hardwood at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

3. Spurs/Suns saddle-up for Game 4
After Game 1, Steve Nash had a gash on his nose and Tony Parker had a bump on his noggin. After Game 2, Amare Stoudemire called Bruce Bowen “dirty” because he says that Bowen tried to purposely injure him. That’s about as physical as it can get, right? Wrong, because in Game 3 Manu Ginobili got a nice sized mouse under his left eye thanks to an inadvertent Shawn Marion poke and Nash took a knee right to the jewels when he tried to guard Bowen a bit too tight. But in the end it was San Antonio who grabbed a 108-101 victory in the game and a 2-1 advantage in the series. Phoenix is now facing, for all intensive purposes, a must-win situation for Monday’s Game 4 in SA because the Suns do not want to be looking at a scenario in which they must win three straight against a team as good as the Spurs. Put your mouthpieces in because this series is turning out to be the championship caliber slugfest that we never got to see between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Carlos Boozer @ Golden State 44 min, 34 pts (FG: 13-19, FT: 8-11), 12 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: The Cleveland Cavaliers had been quietly and effortlessly making their way through the playoffs until New Jersey finally knocked them off their high horse and handed the Cavs their first loss of the postseason. In a statistical abnormality, the Nets were led in scoring by not one, not two, but three players who finished the game with 23 points apiece. Oddly enough, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd weren’t the only players to finish with 23 points as Larry Hughes racked up the night’s magic number as well. LeBron James finished the contest with just 18 points even though he’s got the number 23 on his jersey. Oh, well, it’s not like it would have mattered; the Cavs would have still lost by six points even if James had reached the 23 point plateau.

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