Here's where five random ponderings and potshots about the Utah Jazz-Denver Nuggets series happen (to help you kill time before yet another annoyingly late start):
OK, unbrainwash the funny guy, please
Jazz fans and his teammates are loving the new Kyrylo Fesenko, but I kinda miss the old Fes. The one who offered me an "exclusive" after he made a joke at my expense (I politely refused, teasing that nobody would read it. Ah, if I'd only known his star potential). The one who compared himself to "a small girl" after playing against childhood hero Shaquille O'Neal. The one who once showed up to training camp looking like a Ukrainian "Pony Boy" with bleached-blonde hair. Call me selfish, but I miss the goof-off, the quote machine. He is trying hard — and it's kinda funny to watch, honestly — to be serious. "Sorry, no jokes," he told me the other day at the end of an interview. Deron Williams jokingly compared him to a puppy, and I began thinking they were training him to not kid around by whacking him with a rolled-up newspaper. Or that the team's medical staff removed his funny bone. He made me feel better at practice Monday when he joked while discussing his transformation into Mr. Serious NBA Guy, saying, "I'm actually thinking to die my hair blonde again." He quickly added, "I'm just kidding." Good to hear — for a couple of reasons.
Saving mankind but not his own team
Carmelo Anthony might consider getting a new advertising rep. Or at least a new mantra. It seems uniting the world and leading a team out of the first round are awfully hard to do at the same time. For the second round, a Jazz fan should hire the ad person who concocted the silly "Melo's fans in Utah" commercial to do one featuring Thunder star Kevin Durant — or Kobe Bryant if the Lakers make it. There was one fan holding a pro-Anthony sign Sunday at EnergySolutions Arena. Surprising part: It wasn't Melo.
At least fans still have a sense of humor
Kudos to the witty ESA fans Sunday who brought funny signs along the lines of: "Bring on OKC," "And who says Utah doesn't love Booze on Sundays?" (only in reference to Carlos Boozer's nickname, of course), "Denver: Where first-round mistakes happen" (with a big picture of Tim Tebow) and "Bring back Funny Fes!" (OK, I wanted to hold that one up but didn't.) At the same time, what's with the "Utah Socks!" and "Denver Socks!" chants at the two teams' arenas? Isn't that an L.A. thing?
Let's get (Fes) ready to rumble?
Had a couple of good quotes in my notes aching to get out ...
Quote 1 from Physical-Sorta-Funny Fesenko before Friday's game about extra pounding in the postseason: "It's playoffs. I was actually surprised how slow it's going compared to my previous two years when it was like ejections, flagrant fouls and fights. Right now, it's kind of slow. I like the physical game." Had to throw that out there in case he decides to go toe-to-toe with Ty Lawson. And fights? Haven't seen much of that or fisticuffs in the last couple of Jazz series.
Different definitions of flopping
Quote 2 from Jerry Sloan when asked if his players had flopped, as accused by Denver: "Yeah, they probably do. ... Go tell (the Nuggets) what I said, 'Our guys are flopping.' The officials are the ones that have to worry about it." And the coach's rule of thumb on determining the correct call: "If we've got the ball, it's always a flop. If we don't have it, I want it to go my way." Speaking of flopping, how 'bout them Nuggets since Game 1?
Game 1: Nuggets 126, Jazz 113
J.R. "Swish" makes rare special guest appearance. Some wonder if high-powered Denver might sweep wounded Jazz in 3.
Game 2: Jazz 114, Nuggets 111
Jazz D masquerades as Matt Harpring; Utah signs lease to reside in Melo's melon; The Big D-Will plays like The Big O.
Game 3: Jazz 105, Nuggets 93
While Denver focuses on Williams and Boozer, Paul Millsap looks like a million — er, make that 10 million — bucks.
Game 4: Jazz 117, Nuggets 106
Utah's inspiring NBA team hosts a Sunday-night fireside; Fes' legend grows after he hits key FTs, plops in oops!/phew! layup.
Game 5: Tonight, 8:30 p.m., TNT/FSN
J.R. Smith claimed Nuggets are being "selfish." Meaning, of course, he wants others to let him shoot more.
The BIG Stat
8-0: Opponents haven't had too many laughs when Kyrylo Fesenko starts for the Jazz. Utah has now won all eight contests with the 7-1 center in the starting lineup. That, of course, includes the past three playoff games against the Nuggets.
Who's Hot: Paul Millsap
Power forward has averaged 16.8 points on 62.8 FG%, 9.8 boards
Who's Hotter: Deron Williams
Point guard has been best player in series: 26.8 ppg, 12.0 apg