1. Jazz jump on Kobe’s back
Utah came roaring back on their home floor over the weekend, winning both games to tie their series against the Lakers after getting punked-out on the road. Despite having a bad back for most of the game, Kobe Bryant poured in 33 points and 10 assists, helping the Lakers force overtime where they fell to the Jazz 123-115. It’s difficult to say a team that gave up 115 points played good defense, but Utah did. Jerry Sloan’s boys forced 12 turnovers, blocked 10 shots and stole the ball seven times during the 53-minute grudge match. Deron Williams paced the Jazz with 29 points and 14 assists while Carlos Boozer (14 pts, 12 reb) and Mehmet Okur (18 pts, 11 reb) posted double-doubles. Game 5 should be a doozie back in L.A. on Wednesday. If the Jazz want to win this series, they are going to have to take a game on the road at some point.
2. Champs have new life
San Antonio came roaring back on their home floor over the weekend, winning both games to tie their series against the Hornets after getting punked-out on the road. (Hmmmm, this sounds familiar.) The Spurs finally looked like the defending champions against New Orleans on Sunday, pounding the Hornets 100-80 in a contest that was all but finished in the second quarter. San Antonio led by 2 points after one, 13 at the half and 24 by the end of the third quarter, tying the series at two games apiece. Tim Duncan was solid with 22 points, 15 boards and four swats while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili chipped in a combined 36 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists. San Antonio allowed Chris Paul (23 pts, 5 ast) to get his by design, choosing instead to limit his teammates. Bruce Bowen kept Peja Stojakovic out of synch, limiting the sharpshooter to just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. David West was well below average as well, missing 11 of his 15 attempts. Game 5 should be a doozie back in N.O. on Tuesday. If the Spurs want to win this series, they are going to have to take a game on the road at some point. (Hmmmm, this sounds familiar.)
3. Rick Carlisle heads to Texas
The Mavericks have a new head coach and his name is Rick Carlisle. The former Pacers and Pistons big cheese now heads to Big D where he hopes to change the fortunes of the franchise after a pair of brutal first round exits and one monumental Finals collapse. The news conference is set for Wednesday and the parties appear to be looking at a contract of four years worth a guaranteed $17.5 million. Carlisle has experienced similar disappointments in the postseason with a 30-32 combined record, but the guy was good when he had solid talent around him. With Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Josh Howard and Jason Terry to play with, we expect Carlisle to lead the Mavs back to respectability after finishing seventh in the West this season. The mystery remains if he can get the soft Mavericks to show some guts in the postseason.
Sunday’s Player of the Day: Deron Williams vs. Los Angeles Lakers 44 min, 29 pts (FG: 9-13, 3FG: 3-4, FT: 8-8), 3 reb, 14 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk
“I’m not trying to be arrogant or cocky or anything like that,” said [Jameer] Nelson after the Magic fell to the Pistons 90-89 Saturday in Game 4. “But tonight, we let it slip out of our hands. Game 2 we let slip out of our hands.”
“We’re going to win this game in Detroit.”