NBA Playoffs: Jazz beat Warriors in Game 4
OAKLAND, Calif. - Pound it inside. Steady the pace. Draw fouls and get to the line.
The only thing missing was Stockton and Malone.
Yet the Jazz summoned the effective strategy of playoff runs past when they met the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series at Oracle Arena on Sunday night, and conjured a similarly satisfying result - a 115-101 victory that puts them one game away from reaching the NBA's Western Conference finals for the first time since the legends both were still in uniform.
"We're definitely going to go for it," forward Matt Harpring said.
The Jazz will get their first chance in Game 5 at EnergySolutions Arena on Tuesday night, where they have not lost in the playoffs - it might be time to mothball all those "We Believe" shirts - all because they were able to shake off their blowout loss in Game 3 against the Warriors and finally dictate the pace, tempo and style of the game.
"When we take our time and execute, we're fine," guard Deron Williams said.
Perhaps unbeatable, even.
Carlos Boozer led the way, doing his best Malone impression by scoring 34 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while many of his teammates strained to make big contributions.
But that all changed in the last six minutes, when Boozer's production slowed and the Warriors moved into position to pull away amid the roar of the 20,679 - the largest crowd in franchise history. Golden State's Andres Biedrins gave the Warriors an 87-86 lead with a dunk, but the Jazz's Derek Fisher responded with a three-pointer from the baseline that reclaimed the lead and ignited a brilliant game-winning surge.
"He knows what it takes to win," forward Paul Millsap said.
Evidently, though, he's not the only one.
To that point, the Jazz had committed 21 turnovers against the run-and-gun Warriors. Afterward? Zero. Fisher scored 11 points in the 42 minutes or so before Biedrins threw down his dunk, then scored 10 in the six minutes after. And after making 25 of 28 free throws before Fisher's crucial bomb, the Jazz hit 12 of 15 in the last half of the final period to keep the Warriors from fighting back.
"The big thing is, we just kept playing," Harpring said. "We didn't get down, we didn't get frustrated. And I thought our defense was pretty good, as well."
It was all pretty impressive, especially after the Jazz were run out of the building in Game 3.
But this time, Fisher and Williams managed to stay out of foul trouble - it was actually Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur who had problems with that - and finally avoided the temptation to run with the Warriors.
The 101 points was the fewest the Warriors had scored in the series, and the Jazz once again were able to take advantage of their height advantage inside with Boozer.
"We couldn't handle Boozer," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "I don't think people realize, he is a major, major star. . . . Their strength is our weakness. They're strong and big and go inside, and we're not."
No, the Warriors rely on slashing to the basket for easy layups and bombing away from three-point range, and they didn't have much luck with either strategy. In fact, they appeared to get awfully frustrated near the end of the game, committing hard fouls against Fisher and Okur.
"We attacked the basket," Golden State's Baron Davis said. "But I think we kind of got discouraged once we didn't get calls, and we can't play like that. We can't look to the refs and complain. I thought that took our aggression away."
Certainly, it didn't help.
Davis scored only 15 points, and Williams outplayed him for the first time since Game 1 by piling up 20 points and 13 assists despite a poor shooting night. Fisher finished with 21 points and Okur had 14 for the Jazz
"It's not over," Williams said. "They played us tough in both games back there. . . . We know what's at stake. We have a tough task ahead of us. But we feel like we're in control right now."
How much control?
Only eight teams in league history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game series. None of them was the Warriors.