Two things in particular were popular topics when the Utah Jazz met the media this morning before their practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.
Those being: Kobe Bryant's back and the Jazz's backups.
Both ended up hurting the Los Angeles Lakers in Utah's Western Conference semifinal-tying 123-115 overtime win Sunday afternoon at EnergySolutions Arena.
Several Jazz players say they weren't aware Bryant's back was bothering him as much as it did in his 13-for-33 shooting performance. They also believe the recently crowned NBA MVP will be in uniform and as dangerous as ever in Game 5 on Wednesday at the Staples Center.
The Jazz were more excited to talk about their key reserves Paul Millsap, Matt Harpring, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Price who each provided sparks that proved important. The Jazz bench scored a postseason-high 39 points compared to just 16 points from L.A.'s backups. They also had some big rebounds, blocks, steals and overall steady play.
"Our bench was phenomenal, man. When they play like that we can beat anybody," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. "I think we have one of the better benches in the league. For them to play like that yesterday in a big game was great for us, because they gave us a huge lift when they came on."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was also impressed with the role the subs played in the win that turned this into a best-of-three series. He just hopes for a repeat Wednesday."Obviously our bench, I thought, did a terrific job," Sloan said. "They got us a lead. They did a great job of executing our offense and getting decent shots, and those are the kind of things you hope you have every night."
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