Once the teams were over the initial shock of Thursday's 39-point Jazz playoff win over the Suns, they spent Friday working on damage control. For the Suns, it was a case of regaining their confidence. For the Jazz, a matter of keeping themselves from getting cocky.
As Jazz forward Karl Malone put it, "The people who are patting you on the back will be kicking you in the rear the next day."Game 2 of the first-round playoff series will be played today at 4 p.m. (MST), Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. It will be aired on TNT cable and KSTU-Channel 13.
For two teams that finished Thursday's contest 39 points apart, their responses were oddly similar. Both emphasized Thursday was merely one game in a five-game series - nothing to hyperventilate about.
"We all know it was only one game," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "We had one game like that and it's over. You have to forget what happened yesterday. Nobody cares what you did yesterday."
Well, not exactly nobody. The Jazz thrilled their fans and shocked prognosticators who, for the most part, expected the Suns to win the series handily.
Today's game promises to be a more realistic indicator.
"There were no surprises except the blowout," said Suns' Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons. "I thought it would be tight all the way. We usually don't get blown out. It was one game. I think we'll bounce back."
Fitzsimmons labeled the Jazz's performance "picturesque," claiming "they couldn't have done it up any better."
He added that, "When you take the worst beating the Phoenix Suns have ever taken in the playoffs, you don't want them to forget that."
So what does a team do that has lost by that far? Call the Equalizer?
"I want more emotion, I want more confidence," said Fitzsimmons. "That's what I want from them."
That could be hard to come by. Phoenix may be playing without sixth-man Dan Majerle. The status of Jazz guard Jeff Malone also remains shaky (see accompanying story).
Meanwhile, Suns' forward Tom Chambers, who went 3-for-10 in the opener, sounded skeptical. "We've been struggling for a month," he said. "We just haven't played well at all. Last night (Thursday) compounded that."
Chambers continued, "We got down last night and everybody wanted to be a hero. We were looking at each other like we were the bad guy. It's easy to say, `It was your fault, it was your fault.'
"We couldn't do anything right," added Majerle. "It was embarrassing. We got out-hustled and out-played. I hope that never happens again."
A key factor for the Jazz will be their ability to rotate on defense, which helped them overcome some problems defending Majerle, Jeff Hornacek, and Kevin Johnson. "Nobody was open for good shots all night, really," said Hornacek.
Having put the latest debacle aside, the Suns sound curiously like the Jazz did on Monday, a day after losing in their season finale to Golden State, 125-106.
"We had one of those games over in Oakland the other day," said Sloan.
"If we can't get it together after a game like that," said Chambers, "then I don't think we can get it together."
NOTES: Phoenix has played five times for the Western Conference championship, winning once (1976) . . . Phoenix's all-time playoff record is now 56-61, while Utah's is 18-21 . . . Phoenix signed Majerle to a multi-year contract on Thursday, worth an estimated $2 million per year.