NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 22:
Utah Jazz 117 at Los Angeles Lakers 110
He came, he saw, he conquered . . . maybe not in that order.
The poor, forgotten, barely playoff team known as the Utah Jazz -- who some people think should give their name back to the Charlotte Hornets franchise -- were absolutely dazzled and confused by all the bright lights (emanating from all the stars sitting court side and playing in gold jerseys) and did not win in Los Angeles tonight. It's never that the Jazz win when we beat a highly marketed team; it's clearly that they beat themselves. The Lakers, who went 15/28 from downtown (53.6%) and missed only 3 free throws all game, and had 17 offensive rebounds in a game where they were shooting about 50 fg% -- beat themselves. The beating that the Lakers gave themselves had nothing to do with the Utah Jazz pushing the tempo, attacking their weaknesses, not being intimidated, and working unselfishly for the best shot each time down the court.
Mo Williams, in his bizzaro world revenge game (he played for the La Clippers last year) had 22 points, shot 8/11 FG, went 2/3 from downtown, and 4/5 at the line while absolutely torching whomever was supposed to be defending the Clippers "third or fourth" best PG last year. Mo also had 9 assists, 1 turn over, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. Most of all, he set the tone for the rest of the team. Paul Millsap continued to break out of his funk and dropped 24, 9, 2 (clearly not an All-Star, we get it), while also adding 3 steals and 8 FTA. His frontcourt mate Al Jefferson added 14 and 11, while shooting 55 fg% against Dwight Howard.
The Lakers were playing without two starters in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol; while the Jazz were without our veteran leader Raja Bell and best defensive player in Derrick Favors. So, yes, the Lakers beat themselves. It had nothing to do with DeMarre Carroll 's defense, Jeremy Evans ' three offensive rebounds in 9 minutes, Gordon hayward's all around havoc, or Enes Kanter 's inside assault. He bangs hard inside, and leaves a few bruises. But the results leave you breathless.
This is how the Jazz win games, with team work, defense, unselfishness. It's the recipie for beating high profile teams on their home court. Or, more honestly, it's how we beat the Lakers twice in the first 22 games of the season.
Sorry, I mean: it's how the Lakers beat themselves.
NB. This is just me being mean to the 'generalized idea' of a Lakers fan -- I know plenty of great basketball fans who are also Lakers fans . . . but I do get tired of the "you didn't win, we beat ourselves" big market rhetoric.