Warriors Crowd Pumped
Jerry Sloan has been on the Utah Jazz's bench since before Golden State's Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis were born. The veteran coach has seen and heard just about everything that could decide a playoff series.
And the Golden State Warriors' home crowd doesn't qualify.
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``I thought the crowd in Houston (during the first round) was just as loud as it was last night,'' Sloan said Saturday after practice at Berkeley High School as the Jazz regrouped from Golden State's 20-point victory in Game 3, which cut Utah's series lead to 2-1.
``They have good fans ... but I could hear the (referee's) whistle blowing last night. I couldn't hear the whistle blow in our building.''
Sloan is pretty much alone in that assessment so far during the postseason. The Warriors are unbeaten in four playoff games in Oakland, where Golden State's playoff-starved fans roundly impressed the rest of the nation during their club's unlikely run to the second round.
Sloan will get another chance to hear all about it during Game 4 on Sunday night - but the Jazz hope they won't hear those whistles nearly as often when Deron Williams and Derek Fisher are guarding Baron Davis.
Utah's point guards got into early foul trouble while shadowing Davis. The Golden State guard scored 32 points - his fourth 30-point performance in a remarkable playoff run - and had nine assists and six steals for the eighth-seeded Warriors, capping it with a stunning dunk over Andrei Kirilenko that still had players on both teams talking Saturday.
``That's all we've been talking about,'' Davis said with a sheepish grin before practice at the Warriors' downtown training complex. ``I just came in here trying to get some shots and get ready for (Sunday), but that's all I hear.''
Though Davis is close to achieving mythic status among the Bay Area's basketball fans with his spectacular play this spring, the Jazz believe they can finish off the series at home Tuesday if they can just figure out how to slow down Davis on Sunday.
``Everything I do is a foul,'' said Williams, who has 13 fouls in three games. ``I don't know what I'm allowed to do, me or Derek (Fisher). ... Baron is a physical player, and it's tough, especially when you can't be physical with him back.''
Davis' proficiency wasn't the only reason for Golden State's improved effort after narrowly losing the first two games in Salt Lake City. The Warriors also hit 15 3-pointers and forced 25 Utah turnovers while limiting the Jazz's rebounding advantage - largely because Golden State made more of its shots, particularly from outside.
Golden State has made 42 3-pointers in three games against the Jazz after hitting 42 in the final three games of its first-round victory over Dallas. The Warriors relied heavily on the 3-pointer last season as well, but weren't nearly as proficient as they've been in the postseason.
``We've got so many guys that can take them, so many guys that can make them,'' said Jason Richardson, who has 12 3-pointers against Utah. ``When we added (Stephen Jackson) and Al (Harrington) to the mix, now people can't double-team anybody or defend everybody.''
It is not a surprise that this unlikely series has turned into a battle of wills. Golden State is likely to even the series if it can force its speedy tempo on Utah again, while the Jazz could be on the brink of a trip to the Western Conference finals if they can harass the Warriors' guards and keep the action down low, where Utah dominates.
``If we can keep our point guards out of foul trouble, we're a much better team,'' forward Carlos Boozer said. ``We told them they have to do a much better job of moving their feet.''
The Warriors also figured out a way to slow Boozer's tremendous inside game by matching him up with Harrington, a surprise addition to their starting lineup for Game 3. Though Boozer still had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Golden State's defense frequently persuaded the Jazz to settle for jumpers instead of taking full advantage of Boozer and center Mehmet Okur.
``We got very impatient and never made them play any defense, really,'' Sloan said. ``Those quick shots turn into fast breaks, and they can beat us down the floor.''
And despite Sloan's assessment, the Warriors clearly draw energy and resilience from their crowd. Golden State has won nine straight home games going back to the regular season, as well as 20 of its past 24 in Oakland.
``We had a great game (Friday), but we are still in trouble,'' coach Don Nelson said. ``We need to win the next game, and have the same kind of performance, or even better. One game is wonderful, but we need both of them here. We'll have a chance in the series if we can win the next game.''
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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