“Swish! And the Ray Allen 3 gives the Celtics a 54-42 lead, here in the second quarter.”
Those words seemed to spell disaster for the Utah Jazz, as it appeared that it was going to be a long night in front of the home crowd at ESA.
The refs were not making things look any brighter, as they continued to call ticky-tack fouls on the Jazz, and Carlos Boozer was in serious foul trouble with 3 in the first half.
At that point in the game, I was already imagining the clever news headline for the next day: “Refs Find a Way To Punish Sloan, Jazz.”
But what seemed like an inevitable whine-fest all the way until the conclusion of the game, quickly turned around in favor of the hometown Jazz.
Following that stinging 3-pointer by Ray Allen with just about 2 minutes left in the first half, the Jazz went on a 7-0 run to close out the half, and they trailed by only 5 going into the locker room.
All things considered, most Jazz fans called it a victory to only be trailing by 5.
Little did those optimists know just how good things were going to get in the third quarter for the Jazz.
Coming out of halftime, the Jazz blitzed the Celtics with 9 straight points, including a crowd-roaring 3-pointer by Memo that gave them their first lead in quite a while. But the Money Man was far from done.
In the third quarter alone, Mehmet Okur had an uplifting 8 points and 6 rebounds, and he truly changed the face of this game. His timely buckets infused the Jazz with tons of energy, his rebounds helped the Jazz deal with Boston’s annoying length, and his blocks had people referring to him as, “The Wall.”
With Memo leading the comeback charge, the rest of the team woke up, and they pounced all over the once-confident Celtics to the tune of 33-19 in the third quarter. And, in a game that had the makings of a barn-burner, the Utah Jazz blew the door right off of the game, and they turned it into a comfortable, cruise-control type of game for most of the second half.
Of course, the Celtics never gave up on the game, and they did battle until the clock read zeros, but the Jazz just reached a point where you felt like the game was pretty much in their control (even when the lead was just 7 in the fourth quarter).
When all was said and done, the Jazz had beaten the Celtics 110-97, and they returned the favor that the Celtics gave them earlier in the season.
Couple that with losses by the Mavs and the Thunder, and I would say it was a very good night for the Jazz and their fans.
Now, who could have seen that coming when everybody was killing the refs in the first half?
LT’S JAZZ NOTES
– Another player, outside of Memo, that wowed me tonight was CJ Miles, who had a game-high 23 points. The thing that impressed me the most with CJ was his desire to attack the rim instead of settling for long jumpers. In fact, he was so adept at driving the ball that I called him CJ Wade (as in Dwyane Wade) on more than one occasion. His ability to contort his body through and around defenders, while putting the ball in the hoop, was simply beautiful to watch. Was I watching CJ Miles grow up right before my very own eyes? I sure hope so.
– The most memorable play of the night might have come from Carlos Boozer, who swatted a Ray Allen 3-pointer and went the other way for a dunk. Boozer had a party on the rim to cap it off, and he really got the crowd involved.
– Wesley Matthews has cooled off from downtown, and it’s possible that his knee injury has something to do with it. Fortunately for Wes (sarcasm), he injured his other knee also, while going for a steal on a long pass by the Celtics. We should know more tomorrow. Losing him would be detrimental to this team’s success come playoff time. He has shown the ability to step up in the big spot, and those are the kinds of people who can propel a team forward during the postseason.
– Speaking of injuries, the multi-injured Deron Williams looked good tonight, as there were no visible signs of any pain. He scored 22 points and dropped 11 dimes, en route to a typical D-Will game. He even hit the floor a few times, and he bounced up rather quickly. That’s a pretty good sign if you ask me. Williams was also sharp from the free-throw line, as he shot a perfect 11-11 from there. No wrist problems here!
– As a team, the Jazz shot 27-31 (87.1%) from the free-throw line. Good job guys! Keep it up!
– In a turn of events, of sorts, Doc Rivers got ejected from the game very late in the 4th. I guess both teams could agree on one thing tonight, and that was: Poor officiating.