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Ronnie Price Hates The Lakers, Jazz Beat Clippers 109-99

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Ronnie Price played a motivated game 5 against the Lakers in last year's playoffs almost bringing the Jazz back in the game.  When he re-signed with the Jazz, they asked him about his motivation for that game and his response was,

I hate the Lakers and I wanted to...it was more about that. It had nothing to do with trying to prove a point to Coach or anything like that. I just like getting my name called and like being on the court and having a chance to compete, especially against a team I can't stand

I know we don't play the Lakers until tomorrow night, but maybe it's just LA overall that Ronnie P doesn't like.  He turned the game around tonight when it looked like the Jazz were going to drop one on the road to the Clips.  He came into the game with about :40 left in the third quarter and the Jazz down four.  When he left the game, he handed a 100-91 lead back to Deron Williams.

Ronnie made the first 8 points of the fourth quarter including two three-pointers.  Both of them gave the Jazz the lead and following the second one, the Jazz wouldn't trail again.

In addition to his offense, he had two big steals in the fourth that helped change the tide of the game.  With just under 8 minutes in the game, Chris Kaman clanked two free-throws, the second of which went into the hands of Al Thornton.  Price snuck up from behind and poked the ball away which resulted in a Boozer three-point play on the next possession.  At the time, the Jazz held just a three-point lead, 92-89.  That was a potential five-point swing.

On the the next possession for the Clippers, Price picked Baron Davis' pocket and that resulted in another three-point play on the other end for Wesley Matthews.  When the dust settled from those the plays, the Jazz found themselves up 98-89.  Great game by Price and Deron was able to get a long rest after aggravating his wrist.

Boozer/Kaman matchup

When asked in the post-game show if he had something to prove after being left off the All-star team, Boozer replied, "I really did."

This was as big of a statement game as it gets from Booze.  Kaman finished with a solid 19 & 7 on the night but went 5-14 from the field.  He started the game just 1-7 and missed quite a few bunnies.

Boozer bested that with 34 & 14 while missing only 4 shots on the night.  It was his best performance of the year and seemed to be his quietest output.  He wasn't doing anything that made me think he was going to score 30+.  When I Bolerjack announced that he had 27, I was taken back a bit.  I figured he was on pace for the 20-25 point range, I didn't think he was that high.  He didn't force shots and wasn't looking to get his as evidenced by his 4 assists. 

Even more impressive was his defense late.  Memo was on Kaman for most of the the game but late in the fourth we saw Boozer on him and he came away with a pick and one slap away of the ball.  The only shots Kaman could get were some mid-range jumpers.

If this was a heavyweight fight between the two, this one was a knockout in the fourth round.  Excuse me for my complete lack of boxing knowledge when reading that last sentence.

Statement made Boozer.

Chalk this game up as another "game that the Jazz wouldn't have won had they played in Nov."  The Jazz were down 10, 58-68 early in the third after Rasual Butler nailed a three.  They went up 11 on the next possession after Memo made 1 of 2 FTs and a Kaman layup.  They still had a 9-point lead late in the third after another Butler three-point shot.

They came back by getting back to scoring layups and hitting free throws.  That's the way the game started for the Jazz when some deft passing, the trademark of this 8-game winning streak, led to two early buckets.  The Clippers had a big free throw advantage in the first half but the Jazz closed that gap a bit in the second.  Utah got behind again when they started taking more jumpers and getting crushed on the boards.  The Clippers were getting to almost every ball of their missed shots. They had a huge lead in that category for most of the game. 

In the fourth the Jazz continued their comeback and started getting rebounds and started getting easy looks at the basket.  Even after Price helped build the big lead, the Clippers fought back.  They were down just six with about 1:30 left in the game.  Deron turned the ball over and Davis ended up with an open break to the basket, only he noobied that layup, Deron grabbed the board, and found Boozer on the other end for a dunk.  There's your ball game right there.

So while not an impressive win, it was a win nonetheless.  It was another win on the road and the first win on the road when they've trailed going into the fourth quarter.

Deron said after the game that they're a different team.  I have to agree.  I'd like to think that they're a different team than last season as well and that we won't see another nose dive like we did then.  I don't think we do though.

Trying to get a feel for the players having just watched them on TV and a couple of games at the ESA isn't really realistic.  But if it's possible, this team does have a different feel to it.  There's definitely a difference from the start of the season where the players have admitted there were some chemistry issues.  But there is a difference from last season when they won 12 straight.  Ronnie Price put it best in his post-game interview, "I think this is the most fun we've had on the floor since I've been here."

That's it, that's the difference.  They're having fun even when they're down.  Another great team win.  With that, let's look at some of the individual performances

Deron Williams

Not a great shooting night, but he had the highlight of the game as he had a huge, one-handed, put-back slam off a Matthews' miss.  Just ferocious.  He had 13 & 11 on the night.

Kyle Korver

KK sighting!  That is all.

Boozer

Check out his efficiency rating from last night on Popcorn Machine.net.  Wow.

AK

Andrei finally cooled down a bit.  He was guilty of taking jumpers when they weren't falling last night.  He had a couple of nice drives and dunks and should have done that all night.

CJ

Easily the most maddening player on the team.  He does some great things one minute and then jacks up threes out of the offense and out of rhythm.  He had an embarrassing missed dunk last night but redeemed himself with a putback dunk of his own as well as being on the receiving end of an alley-oop from Deron.  He also had some spectacular assists and finished with 5.  Add to that 7 rebounds and CJ had a good night.

So one LA team down, one to go tonight.  Let's get it done.