A year ago to the day, Derek Fisher was the object of adulation from the EnergySolutions Arena crowd when he made a dramatic appearance late in the third quarter of an eventual overtime win over Golden State, after flying in from New York.
While Fisher certainly didn't receive an ovation Friday night, he didn't seem to be the target for the boo-birds as in his first two ESA appearances during the regular season. And he also wasn't the difference-maker he was earlier this week when he made 4-of-5 3-pointers and scored 22 points in a Game 2 victory, while playing tough defense on Deron Williams for most of the game.
Fisher wasn't much of a factor Friday after sitting out for 12 straight minutes early in the game with foul trouble. On the night, Fisher finished with 13 points and just 2 assists in 32 minutes, making 3-of-6 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line, missing a key free throw with just over three minutes left.
Earlier in the day, when asked about what the reaction of the Jazz crowd might be, Fisher had said, "I have no idea. The second time coming back was better than the first, but this being the playoffs it could be as intense and hostile as ever."
It turned out the reaction toward Fisher wasn't bad at all.
Being the fifth player introduced and right behind Kobe Bryant probably helped Fisher, as Jazz fans heavily booed Bryant after mildly booing the first three Laker starters. While Fisher received his share of boos, they were negated by an equal amount of cheers.
Jazz fans saved most of their wrath for Bryant, booing him most times he touched the ball and cheering wildly when he did something wrong. Fisher was treated like any other opposing player not named Bryant.
Fisher took just 15 seconds to score with an 18-foot jumper from the left side and less than three minutes into the game, the Lakers led 11-3. That's when Fisher picked up his second foul and had to leave the game and the Jazz capitalized.
Utah ran off eight straight points and went on a 15-3 run against the Lakers, who struggled with Jordan Farmar at the point.
"That left us in a tough spot," Fisher said. "We still ended up having a decent quarter, but that changed our rotation and I felt like we could have had more separation early."
Fisher re-entered the game with 9:37 left in the second quarter and the Lakers trailing 30-27, but by halftime, the Jazz had increased their lead to nine at 52-43.
The ex-Jazz guard played most of the second half, but after hitting six straight free throws, he had a chance to cut the lead to two with 3:22 left but missed the first of two.
Fisher said he hopes the issue of him leaving Utah for Los Angeles for his child's medical care has been put to rest."I felt more at ease coming into tonight's game," he said. "It's been a situation that's been talked about, but I think I've cleansed myself, so to speak, by being honest and open about my decision. It was a personal decision that I don't regret and I think all parties have benefited. The Jazz are a better team than last season and I've been able to find myself in a good team situation and my family is secure and we feel comfortable with everything medically."