The story of the Jazz's playoff collapse went national Sunday. CBS-TV was showing a frustrated Karl Malone, Sports Illustrated was on the case for this week's issue, and one well-known Jazz follower was pronouncing the outlook hopeless.
Could the Jazz come back? "I doubt it," Magic Johnson said before the Lakers' win over Portland. "I'm not surprised. The Warriors are a dangerous team, because of all the matchup problems. It's almost impossible to win three in a row, especially when you've got to go to (Oakland) for two."While Johnson is not expecting a date with the Jazz in the Western Conference finals, the Jazz have more modest goals than that at the moment. They'd like to avoid a sweep in this first-round series. Only then can they consider surviving to meet Phoenix or Denver in the second round - and earn the franchise about another $700,000.
Facing their earliest playoff exit ever, the Jazz play Golden State in Game 3 of the best-of-five series Tuesday night in the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
After a day off, the Jazz practiced today at Westminster College before leaving town. Observations on what's left of the series:
- Golden State's Don Nelson is as good a coach as advertised. Jerry Sloan is more than adequate, but Nelson is manipulating the series and frustrating the Jazz with his tricky - illegal? - defenses. He's making all the right moves, while the Jazz seem caught between matchups and defenses.
They're also playing tight, although Thurl Bailey says, "I don't think that's it at all." Generally, they look like Portland did against them last spring - ironically, ex-Portland Coach Mike Schuler is watching the series as a Nelson sidekick. The Jazz have lost 20 turnovers in each game and have retrieved roughly one of every five loose balls.
- This is another tough postseason for Mike Brown. In three series with Chicago over two years, Brown played in two games for seven minutes. In this series, he's played in one game for six minutes. That's proof of how the Warriors can mess up a team's rotation - and they could be doing this to anybody.
- Off-guard remains a problem position for the Jazz. Bobby Hansen and Darrell Griffith have totaled 51 points in two games, but that's with Hansen playing 27 extra minutes as a forward. After shooting too much in Game 1, Griffith was kept under wraps Saturday. He and Hansen have made 19 of 51 shots (.373), while Golden State rookie Mitch Richmond is 20 of 40 for 51 points.
- More numbers: Karl Malone's 22 rebounds in Game 2 broke his own Jazz playoff record; his 11 offensive boards were his most ever in the NBA . . . Thurl Bailey's six points matched his regular-season low . . . John Stockton's 6-of-18 shooting was his worst for a game in which he took that many shots.