|Jazz Can Finish Off Warriors in Game 5|
|Tuesday, 15 May 2007 07:00|
Focused on Finishing
The Utah Jazz are more focused on finishing than retaliation.
Utah's 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night turned ugly as the Jazz pulled away at the end. One flagrant foul and a collision between the two team leaders set up some tension for Tuesday's Game 5 in Utah.
Oddsmakers have made Utah -4 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 217 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Utah -4 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
But there is enough riding on the game that could put Utah in the Western Conference finals and end the Warriors' playoff run that neither team was dwelling on what happened Sunday at Golden State.
``The fans here in Salt Lake City, the fans in Oakland have seen great games, great competition,'' said Utah guard Derek Fisher, who crashed hard to the floor after running into Baron Davis well away from the ball late in the game Sunday. ``There's no sense messing that up by doing things that are out of character.''
At Monday's practice, Fisher had no visible marks or hard feelings against Davis, his former teammate in Golden State.
And any ill-will between Mehmet Okur and Golden State's Jason Richardson, who was kicked out of the game with 37 seconds left for clotheslining Okur to keep him from an easy dunk, had also faded.
Utah leads the series 3-1 and can clinch it Tuesday at home, where the Jazz are 5-0 in the playoffs. So revenge won't be part of the game plan. Golden State, meanwhile, will be playing just to extend the series to Game 6 back in Oakland and aren't likely to be losing their cool again with the season on the line.
``They haven't hard-fouled, us, and I'm not going to hard-foul them,'' Golden State coach Don Nelson said.
Okur and Richardson were restrained by their teammates after Richardson stopped Okur's drive to the basket with a forearm. Okur said after the game that he had overreacted, but he also got to rub it in a little with a very unnecessary 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Jerry Sloan, Utah's hard-nosed coach, was happy enough about the final score and the way the Jazz pulled away that he wasn't thinking much about the heated ending.
The Jazz are one victory away from their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 1998 and Sloan doesn't want anything to derail that.
``We just have to worry about playing tomorrow and putting the last game behind us and just concentrate on basketball, not the things that have happened,'' Sloan said. ``You don't want to back away from anybody, just keep playing. And I was proud of our players for doing that last night.''
The Jazz got a scare when Fisher and Davis were running up the court with 1:37 left. Davis stopped and Fisher kept going, right into Davis' elbow and crashed to the court.
Davis said it was unintentional and apologized to Fisher, who was well enough to finish the game.
``I told him to stop flopping, and he laughed. He said he knows I didn't do it on purpose,'' Davis said before the Warriors flew to Utah on Monday. ``Me and Derek Fisher, we're great friends. He's a great mentor to me, and in the moment of the game, the heat of the game, there's going to be some contact, some unnecessary contact.''
It will be up to the league to decide whether the contact was incidental and if Davis will be disciplined. Davis has five technical fouls in the playoffs and is two away from an automatic suspension. He was not called for a foul on the collision with Fisher.
Fisher had no hard feelings. He just wants the series to end before the Warriors, who beat top-seeded Dallas in the first round, can get on another roll.
``You can't feel as though you're playing with free money or you have 2-3 chances to win one game. You really have to take the mindset that we have one game to win and let's win that game right now,'' Fisher said.
The Warriors are just trying to keep the season going. Golden State needed a late-season push just to make the playoffs and doesn't want to tarnish what they accomplished over the past two months.
``Utah knows we don't play like that. We respect the game,'' Golden State's Stephen Jackson said. ``I think the league knows that J-Rich and Baron aren't dirty players. I think it's crazy that people are trying to blow these things out of proportion.''
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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