LOS ANGELES — In the recent film "The Bucket List," Jack Nicholson — same guy who sits rakishly on the sidelines at Lakers games — plays the part of a terminally ill cancer patient. He and hospital roommate Morgan Freeman develop a list of things they want to do before they "kick the bucket."
They want to travel the world, heal old grudges, climb mountains, ford rivers, see the pyramids.
It makes for decent movie going.
And isn't that what playing the Lakers is all about — one big screenplay?
Maybe the Jazz should have their own Bucket List. Things to do before they die: Hold Kobe Bryant to under 25 points, discover whatever happened to Carlos Boozer's touch, and shoot well in a playoff game.
Wednesday night at the Staples Center, the Jazz fell to 0-2 in their playoff series with the L.A. Lakers. Which means they haven't scratched many of items off their list. The series moves to Salt Lake on Friday, where their chances get a little better. Still, time is short.
With their 120-110 win, the Lakers and are cruising the Coast Highway with the top down.
Who needs a silly to-do list?
They have their own one-item agenda: win another championship.
Now that they've won six straight playoff games, talk is rising that the Lakers are the team to beat for the NBA title. Has it really been six
years since the Kobe-Shaq combo was completing a three-peat? For most franchises, six years ago is recent history. In fact, it doesn't even seem all that long since the Jazz were playing in the NBA Finals. Yet that has been 10 years.
But for L.A., a few years is an eternity.
Just take a look in Lakers' owner Jerry Buss' window at the team practice facility. There on the ledge are eight, count 'em, eight championship trophies.
Patience isn't a virtue in L.A.
Hence, when introductions are made prior to games, the club unveils a ceiling-to-floor circular silkscreen that says, "THE HEART OF THE CITY BEATS AGAIN" and follows with dramatic images of Laker players.
On Wednesday, they also took time to honor MVP Kobe Bryant, who told fans, "I love you guys so much!"
It's impressive stuff.
Hollywood quality, in fact.
Then there are the Jazz, working on a little production of their own.
Would one win before the season's over be too much to ask?
That the Jazz would be in this predicament isn't surprising. They made it this far by struggling past an injury-depleted Houston team that took them to six games. That's because the Jazz have been playing without the normal services of top scorer Carlos Boozer. He's still MIA.
Whether it's a rumored injured back, or something in his head, Boozer just can't seem to get back to the dominating scorer he was a year ago. He has not hit his regular-season scoring average once in the playoffs and has scored 20 points just once. Wednesday night, he finished with 10.
Boozer has been insisting that even though he's shooting poorly, he's playing "really good basketball."
Isn't that a bit like saying you're doing really well on "American Idol" if it weren't for that doggone laryngitis?
Meanwhile, the Jazz shot 44.6 percent from the floor, still below their regular-season average.
Then there's Bryant, who has previously scored 33, 28, 31, 27 and 38 points in games this year against the Jazz.
How to hold him down? Or is it a matter of simply acknowledging he'll get his points and concentrating on everyone else?
"It's not like we're trying to let great guys get all they want and stop everybody else," said Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko. "They are such great players, they can score 80 points. You really can't allow that. You need to do a great job on guys like (Tracy) McGrady or Kobe, and force the teammates to help. Make somebody else help them."
As it turned out, Bryant didn't need to score 40 points, thanks in part to the absence of Boozer's points for the Jazz. Bryant didn't go off, but he certainly didn't back off, either, finishing with 34.
It was enough.
He'd foiled the Jazz's plans.
The Lakers remained perfect in the playoffs. And in the process, they pretty much limited the Jazz's chances to wishing.