The Bulls, Knicks, Warriors and Thunder won their first round series, but fell short of reaching the NBA's Final Four. Each team faces a pivotal offseason with many decisions to consider. Read More. Written by Daniel Leroux on May 21, 2013
On a Jerry Sloan-coached team, there are certain rules that players are expected to obey.
One is: When attempting to block a shot, don't leave your feet. The problem is that when a player leaves his feet, he eventually has to come down, and it's not uncommon for players to commit fouls in the process of landing.
But according to one reliable source who has been privy to team meetings, when Sloan recites that rule he is always quick to add: "Except you, Andrei."
"Andrei," of course, is Andrei Kirilenko, the second-year forward who has blocked 11 shots in the Jazz's last two games, including five in Monday night's 107-85 victory over the Toronto Raptors at the Delta Center.
He also scored 20 points on six of 10 shots, pulled down four rebounds and made three steals.
The temptation was to look at the facts, and chuckle.
Toronto came to Utah 8-22, loser of six straight and 10 of its previous 11 games. The injury-depleted Raptors arrived quite short-handed, missing star Vince Carter and fellow starter Antonio Davis, among others. And they were playing their fourth game in five nights, all out West.
Should be a real laugher, huh?
Well, Utah's 107-85 victory over Toronto on Monday night was no joke.
Hoops history may show that Karl Malone and John Stockton were unable to lead the Utah Jazz to an NBA championship.
Having played with them and having learned from them, Greg Foster has a different perspective on the future Hall of Fame tandem of Malone and Stockton.
"I don't think people know the true scope of what John and Karl have done in this league," Foster said as he returned to Utah last night with the Raptors. "These are two guys who show up for practice each day and work hard each day, two guys who play hard every single game."
Then again, quite a few of the Toronto Raptors fell into that category Monday night at the Delta Center.
But unlike Lindsey Hunter, who went 1-for-4 with four turnovers and a technical foul in 20 minutes of action, or Jerome Williams, who played 35 minutes yet managed just three points and two rebounds, Carter wasn't even in the building to witness the Raptors' 107-85 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Andrei Kirilenko kept the fans in the stands and the Toronto Raptors on their heels Monday night at the Delta Center.
In a game that essentially was decided before halftime, Kirilenko punished the Raptors at the offensive end of the court with 20 points off the bench, and used an energetic effort defensively to keep a sellout crowd from heading for the exits early with five blocked shots and three steals in a 107-85 Utah Jazz victory.
"He just plays basketball," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Kirilenko. "He's a lot like John (Stockton). Once he scores, he"s right back into the game again. He never plays backwards."
Andrei Kirilenko is having another good season in the NBA, but he's not even having the best year in his own family.
An album of pop songs released this fall by Kirilenko's wife, Masha Lopatova, is selling well in Russia, and the video for its first single -- "Saharniy," or roughly in English "Sugary" -- recently soared to No. 1 on Russian MTV.
The song is autobiographical, tracing Masha's breakup with her former boyfriend, another Russian pop star -- think "Britney" and "Justin," except this ex actually appears in the video, too -- through her loneliness until she meets Andrei, the famous basketball star.
The Jazz's bench is full of guys who could start. The Raptors' starting lineup includes guys they would rather bring off the bench.
Guess which roster works better.
Utah's bench outscored Toronto's 55-17, and a lineup that included reserves Mark Jackson, Andrei Kirilenko, Scott Padgett and Tony Massenburg drilled the Raptors with defense in the decisive second quarter, sparking the Jazz to their fifth win in six games Monday, 107-85 in the Delta Center.
Monday night, with Toronto in town, the Jazz play their third game in four nights.
And they will like it.
After Monday, however, the Jazz have three full days off before going again.
And they will be kicking and screaming while sitting idle, pouting like a wide-eyed child given a living room full of new toys, only to be told he must wait half-a-week before playing with any of them.
No XBox. No Bop It. And don't even think about touching that Game Boy, boy.