In spite of how close this game seemed to be, at no point did I feel like the Spurs were going to lose it. I know that sounds weird, given that they were down most of the first half, but it’s true. It was a terrible half of Spurs basketball, but thanks to a brilliant bit of Pop coaching, they led by 2 at intermission. From there, it was simply a matter of time.
My Game 4 preview will go up tomorrow, but here’s a spoiler: I’m picking the Spurs to go ahead and finish this one off. I don’t think there’s one Jazz player or coach who thinks they can beat the Spurs right now.
Song of the Game: Beastie Boys, “Sure Shot”
In honor of the death of MCA, aka Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, I give you my favorite song from these guys. If you are in your late 30s / early 40s, like I am, the Beastie Boys were probably a hugely influential band in your life. Most people never got past the terrible “Fight for Your Right (to Party)”, but if you did, you heard some fantastic hip-hop that helped bring the genre into the mainstream. There was no one like the Beasties. RIP, MCA.
I also chose this song because its title perfectly described Tony’s 4th quarter last night. In a word, he was magnificent. During the game, Tim C from Pounding the Rock (@TimC_PtR) and I were tweeting that this seemed like a game where Manu was going to take over and win it. Right idea, wrong guy. Tony was 5-of-5 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the line. Manu was a passing machine, but Tony has become the closer. His 4th quarter should be shown to youngsters everywhere (and NBA coaches) on how to have the ball in your best player’s hands without having to resort to hero ball.
Play of the Game: Bonner’s 3
This may have been the turning point in the game. The Jazz had a slight lead for a minute or so in the 3rd, but it was clear watching body language as they walked off the floor at the half that the Jazz were done.
I’m not even going to try and describe this play. It has to be seen, so go here to do that and then read Buck Harvey’s story about the play that they had not run all season (nor practiced), but executed to perfection. Freaking brilliant.
Trending Up: The Big 3, Danny Green, Captain Jack
Tony is good. Really, really good.
While Manu has been quiet scoring, his ten assists led the team and he contributes in so many ways. He dominated parts of this game by drawing defensive attention and with his passing, but you’d never know it unless you watched the game.
I don’t know what kind of Jedi mind tricks Timmy put on Al Jefferson, but Big Al is getting his butt kicked by the old man in this series. Tremendous defense, strong offense, and solid screens. Everything you want from Timmy in this series.
Danny Green continues to prove he’s ready for the big stage. Solid defense on both Harris and Hayward and he keeps scoring the ball. I kind of hope he cools off a bit, because I’m afraid some team is about to offer him crazy money as a free agent and he’ll be gone.
Stephen Jackson was also tremendous last night, with 13 points and 3 treys. He loves taking big shots.
Trending Down: DeJuan, Gary Neal
Not a bad night for Gary per se (he hit two solid treys in the first half), but he played less than 7 minutes. Because he struggles guarding Utah’s big guards, he may not see much playing time until the next round.
DeJuan distinguished himself by being the only guy on the team with a negative +/- rating. He wasn’t terrible in his 6 or so minutes; he just wasn’t needed.
Stat of the Game: Tony in the Paint
Tony Parker has 26 field goals in the three games against the Jazz. 20 of them are counted as points in the paint. The key to this series has been the fact that Jazz cannot keep Tony out of the paint. When they have, by bringing doubles, he finds open bigs rolling to the basket or open shooters in the corners. He’s made great decisions all season and that has continued into the playoffs.
I never believed the Thunder would sweep Dallas, but I can’t say I’m unhappy either. Meanwhile, I’m closely watching Memphis – LA Clippers. But I’ll say this right now: neither team particularly scares me.