It can challenge them. It can draw the great out of them.
But beat them? No way.
"There's no shame in that," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said afterward.
Let's do away with any pretense.
The Jazz lost with honor. They tried. They didn't necessarily play their best — they shot a mere 39 percent — but what's wrong with losing if the other guys are superior?
In a playoff series that had leaned only one way to this juncture, at least the thing leaned both ways here. This is what playoff basketball should be. It was a bareknuckled fight on the floor, the crowd in the stands sucking in and blowing out with every possession, the lead on the board being swapped throughout the second half. Aesthetics may have been in short supply on occasion, but intensity was as long as the night.
In a matchup in which the Jazz have few advantages, they had one this time, an advantage — home court — that couldn't sustain them — when You-Know-Who and You-Know-Who pulled their team out of the fire.
And anyone who saw it was fully aware — there was a fire burning, when the Jazz led by nine points in the second half.
And then …
Well. Let's reiterate.
"You're looking at two of the best players in the game," Snyder said. "That's why that team is who they are."
Everyone had waited, wondered, wanted to see how the Jazz would respond in front of their home crowd, against an opponent that had its way with the Jazz in Oakland, never threatened, never even yielding a lead, not once.
The Jazz, then, were in bad need of some comfort, some confidence, maybe even some home cooking, in an environment that supposedly would give them at least the first two.