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Jazz pulse may be faint, but players have plenty of life

SHARE Jazz pulse may be faint, but players have plenty of life

Something happened during the autopsy of the Jazz we've had to endure the past three weeks.

With the body of the Jazz prone on the steel table, it happened.

We were all poised to spend another endless series of days listening to and reading experts discuss which Jazz body parts needed to be weighed and discarded, which diseased parts caused the late-season crash, what part of the heart was too squishy soft, which hand was incapable of shooting the basketball and which foot wasn't quick enough to play defense.

But just before the goggled help in white coats directed the knife and saws toward the Carlos Boozer appendage and opened up the floor drain, the corpse moved.

Oops, this one is still alive.

Buoyed up by the infusion of electric energy of a playoff home setting in EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz found a welcome lifeline in that 88-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Is it my imagination, or is this cadaver laughing?

Boozer, the often-injured and maligned millionaire, was on fire against the Lakers. If he'd had any more rebounds, we'd have had to check his hands for illegal electronic suction devices. As Mark Twain would have reported, the news of gimpy Boozer's demise was greatly exaggerated.

New life. That's what we're looking at.

And the next breath in that forage begins today in Game 4. Fortunately for Utah, it's again at home, a comfortable enclave where fans provide an incredible atmosphere, an umbilical cord on steroids.

This is a place where Kyle Korver and Matt Harpring can engineer comebacks from 13 points down. This is a place where Deron Williams can struggle, yet place a game-winning crossover move on Derek Fisher. This is a place where Utah can stink at the free-throw line and still manage a win. It's also a place the energy level can lift Utah to play the kind of defense required to even have a chance to stick with a team like L.A.

This resurrection, does it mean Utah has a chance at this series? No. The Lakers will take care of Utah in the end.

Kobe Bryant isn't going to make just 5 of 24 shots very often, and if his last-second 30-footer had found home, all this would be null and void.

What this autopsy interruption does mean is Utah didn't get swept, like some experts predicted. Toast? The timer's still ticking, the bread's in the chute.

What it means is Utah has a chance at ending this season with some pride and the fans might milk a few more golden moments of enjoyment out of the investment of following this up-and-down, medically challenged squad all season.

What it means is the loud, excitable Utah fans have a new hope in gathering today at ESA and reveling in the ritual of cheering their team on and dissing the franchise and player they most love to hate. It will be interesting to note if some of those empty green seats Thursday are filled today.

There's value in that, even if symbolic in nature.

"Now we have a chance," is how Ronnie Brewer put it.


Well, it's a finger hold of sorts.

And that's a heck of a lot more than the Jazz left California with, down 0-2 and giving up hundreds of points in a pair of losses.

So, what do we have here?

Boozer is playing, at least offensively, like he's supposed to. If Bryant misses shots like he did Thursday, Boozer's going to end up with some rebounds again.

Utah can shoot better from the free-throw line. Williams, although he has an excuse to play poorly because this team has ridden him like a Grand Canyon pack mule, can play better.

The Jazz can play better defense at home. They still miss Memo and, even if he made a showing tonight, the time off would make him ineffective. L.A. still has the length to kill the Jazz inside, but the inexperience (foul trouble) on the road in the playoffs is evident with Andrew Bynum.

Utah needs the score of Saturday's game to be in the 90s, not 100s. That means the Lakers are missing shots and playing like their fabulous selves in shorter spurts while giving up scoring runs.

Finally, Utah's defense has to be consistent. That will trigger the rest and help avoid that third-quarter skid Thursday night in which the Lakers looked like the Lakers. Having Williams with the ball in his hands for a game-winner is something Utah fans should like anytime, either here or there.

In the meantime, put an out-to-lunch sign on the autopsy door. Re-sharpen the knives and saws. Save it for another day.

E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com