OAKLAND -- The grand okeydoke perpetrated by the Utah Jazz worked like a charm.
Warriors' loss could be costly
The subtle one by Baron Davis and the not-so-subtle one by Jason Richardson? It could depend on the crispness of the bacon and the crunchiness of the toast that his local restaurant serves Stu Jackson on Monday morning.
For now, this is all that's certain: The Jazz, using Carlos Boozer as a 6-foot-9, 266-pound hammer, pounded the poise out of the Warriors and the breath out of their now infamously boisterous fans for a 115-101 win Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
Boozer's 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting resulted in Golden State's first loss at home in seven weeks, including five playoff games. Utah now returns to Salt Lake City -- and maybe the second-loudest arena in the league -- with a chance to clinch the best-of-seven series Tuesday night.
The big question is, will Davis and Richardson make the trip?
The Jazz had a stranglehold on Sunday night's outcome, leading 102-93 with 97 seconds left, when Davis missed a 3-pointer and Deron Williams snared the rebound. As Derek Fisher turned to go up court, he banged into Davis and went down in a heap, forcing the Jazz to call a 20-second timeout. Replays showed Davis stopping and throwing an elbow, although Fisher said he thought it was Davis' shoulder that caught him in the right ear.
"Boom is tough and hard-nosed, but he wasn't out there trying to hurt anyone, especially me," said Fisher, referring to one of Baron's nicknames, Boom Dizzle. Even before they were teammates at Golden State, Fisher (a former Laker) and Davis (a former Bruin) developed a friendship through summer pickup games at UCLA. "This time of year, you can't expect anything different."
No foul was called on the play, but Stu Jackson, VP of league operations, has become notorious this year for looking at replays of physical altercations after the fact and escalating or reducing the punishment by the officials on hand. Jackson's rulings have appeared to be highly subjective, raising the question about breakfast that day being the determining factor.
Richardson could be subjected to similar video-clip justice after drawing a flagrant foul and being ejected for knocking Mehmet Okur out of the air on a dunk attempt with 37.2 seconds left.
Richardson said, "That's basketball," and Davis refused to comment, but teammate Stephen Jackson said there's no guarantee the Warriors will have their starting backcourt for Game 5.
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Expect this late-fourth quarter flagrant foul by Richardson (right) on Okur (center) to come under league review.
"I am worried, because since I've been here everything has been magnified," said Jackson, who knows a little something about league policy on fines and suspensions.
The Jazz, in their way, blindsided the Warriors as well -- by refusing to look at the rim from long range for nearly all of the first 42 minutes and then suddenly letting it fly over the final six.
After taking only four 3-point attempts in the first half and none in the third quarter, Utah went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, all three makes coming in the final six minutes. Throw in a pair of deep 2-point jumpers and the Jazz were, essentially, beating the Warriors at their own shoot-from-the-moon game.
And, maybe it's just coincidence, but the two guys doing all that long-range damage? Okur, with 12 fourth-quarter points, including a 3-ball and one of those deep 2-point Js, and Fisher, with 14 in the final period, including a pair of treys and the other long 2-pointer.
"A lot of that was Booz," said Williams. "He went to work early inside and that opened everything else up."
There may not be two greater contrasting styles in the NBA, and certainly not among the teams remaining in the playoffs. Not even the Suns and Spurs play at such disparate paces. Elephants vs. Eagles? PBS vs. MTV? Ice floe vs. Firehose? Shots vs. Pints? Red Bull vs. Lipton?
Maybe this captures it: in the first quarter, the Warriors scored nine points in 72 seconds, including a pair of 3-pointers 20 seconds apart.
The Jazz moseyed its way to the same nine points, only they took nearly four minutes to do it.
"We still have to try to stick to how we play, even if the 24-second clock runs out," said Coach Jerry Sloan. "We're not equipped to play any other way."
If the crowd was muzzled for the first time since the playoffs started, one reason is that the Warriors finally paid a price for their fast-and-loose style, committing six first-quarter turnovers and missing seven consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Utah, meanwhile, stubbornly refused to do anything the least bit risky. A 4-on-2 with Matt Harpring ahead of the pack? The Jazz just said no.
A long rebound with 35 seconds left in the quarter and a shot at two possessions with a quick score? The Jazz didn't even consider it.
And even when they got a second possession, with 3/10ths of a second on the clock, they didn't bother with the what-the-hell heave in the direction of the rim on the inbound hoping for a lucky tip-in.
"The Warriors have been successful because they have a very unique style and force you to play that way," said Andrei Kirilenko. "Dallas started to play their game with them and you see what happened. We can't afford to do that."
The Warriors, of course, can't afford to play without Davis or Richardson. The team plane leaves at 2 p.m. PT. Even if Jackson goes for brunch, they should know their fate by then.
• Talk back to the Daily Dime gang
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Throughout the playoffs, Baron Davis has been providing opponents an expensive education. But school's almost out, especially if he is suspended for his hard hit on Derek Fisher.
Some Sunday night bullets from Henry Abbott's TrueHoop blog after Game 4 in Oakland:
• You don't need me to tell you that Paul Millsap is sent straight from basketball heaven. He has some skill and some size, sure, but mostly he has a perfect basketball motor. He just wants it like he wants oxygen. And he doesn't rush or panic when he has the ball.
Jazz point guard Deron Williams out-scored (20 to 15) and out-assisted (13 to 7) the Warriors' Baron Davis for the second time in the series, but he could barely stand to look at the final box score.
That's because he posted a touchdown worth of turnovers for the second consecutive game.
"It's the first thing I look at," he said, "and it really bugs me."
Coach Jerry Sloan and All-Star forward Carlos Boozer nonetheless credited Williams for controlling the game's tempo, a vital component in the win.
"Deron Williams is amazing," said Boozer.
"He's a very smart player and knows what we want to do," said Sloan. "His growth has been terrific."
Not getting in early foul trouble helped. Williams played nearly 22 first-half minutes Sunday night after being limited to 9½ because of three first half fouls in Game 3 on Friday. "It definitely felt good to stay out there," he said.
-- Ric Bucher in Oakland
Gary Dineen/Getty Images
In Game 4, the Bulls finally broke loose, scoring 102 points after averaging 77 in Games 1-3. Chicago's win sends this Eastern Conference semifinal back to Detroit with the Pistons leading the series 3-1.
Quote of the Day:
-- Royce Webb
Andrei Kirilenko did not have a blocked shot in Game 4 after collecting 16 in the first three games, but he said it had nothing to do with the straight-to-classic dunk Baron Davis crushed in his grill near the end of Game 3.
"People go all crazy," Kirilenko said. "You dunk on me, OK, next time I'm still going to try to block your shot again.
"It's a different mentality. Guys try to put their ass in your face or say something. I'm not intimidated by that stuff."
-- Ric Bucher in Oakland
The Bulls avoided being swept out of the playoffs with a Game 4 victory over the Pistons.
Chicago has played 29 best-of-7 series (including this one) since the last time it was swept in four straight games (by the Celtics in the 1981 Eastern Conference semifinals).
Only three other teams in NBA history have had streaks of at least 29 consecutive best-of-7 series without getting swept -- the Celtics (46 in a row, 1957-1982), the Nationals/76ers (36, 1950-1991) and the Lakers (29, 1960-1977).
The Warriors were 12-for-39 from beyond the arc in their 115-101 loss to the Jazz.
Golden State has attempted at least 30 three-point field goals in each of its last six games, the longest such streak in NBA playoff history.
In fact, only one NBA team has ever had a streak of that length (or longer) during the regular season (12 straight games by the 1995-96 Mavericks).
-- Elias Sports Bureau
Some of Chris Sheridan's 10 observations from Chicago:
1. Ben Wallace is a man of his word: Big Ben insisted before the series that the Pistons will be his enemy only during the 48-minute periods when the games are being played.
You'd think he might have changed his mind by now, what will all the chop-busting from his ex-teammates via text message that I alluded to in my last blog entry, but there he was after Sunday's game mixing it up with the Pistons and their families in the corridor outside the locker rooms.
Wonder if he'll show up in the stands at The Palace during the next series to cheer on his buddies.
5. The arena experience at the United Center in Chicago leaves much to be desired.
The dance acts during TV timeouts, whether performed by the Luvabulls, the Matadors (fat guy dance team) or the Dancing Granny (some poor old woman in her 70s who is sent out to center court to dance alone) are so unimaginative and bad, it's like turning on "Dancing With The Stars" and watching someone do the Hokey-Pokey.
6. Scott Skiles is not as intense as he comes off on television.
(Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press said it best when he described Skiles as "resembling a clenched fist.")
In fact, he's probably as reasonable, approachable and conversational a coach as there is in the NBA when it comes to dealing with reporters.