JAZZ: Warriors win Game 3
OAKLAND, Calif. - Any minute now, Baron Davis is going to pull down a referee's pants, throw a bucket of confetti into the crowd and swish a hook shot from midcourt.
Did he already do that?
It was a little hard to tell which spectacular combinations of entertainment and marksmanship his Golden State Warriors did not execute during a 125-105 target practice of a victory over the Jazz in Game 3 of the NBA's Western Conference semifinals at roaring Oracle Arena on Friday night.
Behind the back . . . over the scorer's table . . . off the video screen . . . nothing but net.
You'd swear it was in there somewhere, amid the 15 three-pointers and one legendarily thunderous dunk the Warriors rained down upon the Jazz in a game that showed the Warriors are not nearly as tired, outmanned or overmatched as even their coach had gamely tried to suggest after losing to the first two games in Utah.
After all, they seemed to hit everything else they put up, even if the stat sheet said they shot just 52.6 percent. In the corner. On the run. Fall-away, step-back. You name it, the Warriors buried it - and looked refreshed and comfortable enough in front of 20,655 screaming, yellow-shirted fans to have done it all night long, and blindfolded.
"They feed off the energy here," the Jazz's Matt Harpring said. "And sometimes, when you have the energy, the fans going for you, you make great plays. They did that tonight, and honestly, that's what makes them good."
The Jazz, meanwhile, had nothing with which to counter.
Sure, they tried the baby-blue uniforms again, hoping for continued good fortune after having beaten the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of their first-round series while wearing them. But superstition didn't stand a chance against 25 turnovers (one short of the franchise playoff record), abysmal defense - the Warriors scored 40 points in a devastating second quarter - and another game of foul trouble for the backcourt.
Guards Deron Williams and Derek Fisher spent the last 8 1/2 minutes of the first half on the bench with three fouls apiece - the emotional lift of Fisher's dramatic return from his daughter's cancer surgery in Game 2 could not have seemed further away - and the Warriors used the opportunity to run and jump and howl their way to a 21-point lead that made the second half only a procedural requirement.
"It's just like somebody coming into your house, unwanted," Golden State's Stephen Jackson said. "You're going to protect your home, and this is our home. We know we have to win here to be successful in the playoffs . . . and everybody has that in their mind."
Davis led the Warriors with 32 points, Jason Richardson added 25 while even their most beleaguered teammates - Andris Biedrins and Michael Pietrus, this means you - managed to put some dazzling moves on the Jazz. The rebounding margin was tightened up, too; none of the Jazz players scored more than Carlos Boozer's 19 points; and the Warriors hit 28 of 35 free throws after losing Game 2 at the line.
"We got away from it tonight, team defense," Fisher said, "allowing their guys to dribble the basketball several times before getting to the basket. That's just not something that we do. We've been holding teams to 40 percent [shooting] these entire playoffs."
Even more amazing, the Warriors pretty much stopped shooting the three during the third quarter - they hit only one after the 3:57 mark of that period - by which time they had a 30-point lead.
After that, they just settled for throwing up circus shots inside the arc - anybody see Davis' spinning scoop shot in the lane, early in the fourth quarter, or maybe his poster dunk on Andrei Kirilenko late? - to ensure a Game 5 back at EnergySolutions Arena on Tuesday.
"We got beat," Williams said. "They played a great game. Don't take anything away from what they did, because they came out here and kicked our butt. Pretty much did anything they wanted to, we didn't play our game, and that's basically it."