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JERRY CROWE

Text messages from press row . . .

May 12, 2008|JERRY CROWE

SALT LAKE CITY -- Kobe Bryant, his newly aching lower back and the Lakers suddenly look vulnerable, but an airy schedule still favors them. . . .

Also, they'll return only once more to Utah, where a sign Sunday summed up the feelings of many Utahans: "The only good Laker is a Salt Laker." . . .

On the other hand, it's not a good sign when your best player can't pick himself up off the floor without first rolling over onto all fours. . . .

Anyone who has experienced back pain knows the feeling. . . .

If Bryant can summon the usual lift in his legs, perhaps spidery Andrei Kirilenko doesn't block two of his close-to-the-basket shots in overtime. . . .

Deron Williams, who came to life in the second half of Game 2 at Staples Center, imposed his "D-Will" on the series in the two games at the EnergySolutions Arena, where Derek Fisher's early foul trouble dropped the Lakers into holes that Jordan Farmar was incapable of helping them escape. . . .

Williams looked to be too quick for Fisher to contain. . . .

Williams, a second-team All-NBA pick, looked to be too strong, too wily and too quick for the overmatched Farmar. . . .

As Phil Jackson pointed out, the Lakers' second unit was again second best in Game 4, Paul Millsap and the rest of the Jazz reserves pushing the home team to a 12-point fourth-quarter cushion before the Lakers rallied. . . .

It didn't help that Ronny Turiaf was ejected before halftime. . . .

Millsap, by the way, is the only player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in rebounding in three consecutive seasons. . . .

He's from Louisiana Tech, as was Karl Malone. . . .

Likenesses of Malone and John Stockton are cast in bronze outside the arena, Malone rising for a shot and Stockton making a no-look bounce pass, but the former Jazz greats rarely attend games. . . .

Sunday NBA games are a rarity in Utah, where the Jazz does not schedule regular-season Sunday home games in deference to the state's Mormon leanings, but the downtown arena was rocking as usual and one fan even brought a sign that read, "We love Booz -- Even on Sunday." . . .

She meant Carlos Boozer. . . .

Ronnie Brewer, whose alley-oop dunks helped trigger a fast start by the Jazz, is the son of Ron Brewer, who teamed with Sidney Moncrief and Marvin Delph to form the "Three Basketeers" trio that led Arkansas to the Final Four in 1978, ousting second-ranked UCLA and upstart Cal State Fullerton along the way. . . .

A year later, the Lakers considered making Moncrief the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft before owner Jack Kent Cooke insisted they take Magic Johnson. . . .

Illustrating the NBA's globalization over the last decade, four of the 10 starters in the series were born outside the United States -- Spaniard Pau Gasol, Serb Vladimir Radmanovic, Turk Mehmet Okur and Russian Kirilenko. . . .

The last time the Lakers and Jazz met in the playoffs, 10 years ago, the only foreigner on either roster was Toronto-born Lakers forward Rick Fox. . . .

The only victory by a visiting team in the second round of the playoffs might also have been the least expected, the Detroit Pistons overcoming a big second-half deficit and winning Saturday at Orlando without Chauncey Billups. . . .

Mr. Big Shot on Saturday was former Compton Dominguez High star Tayshaun Prince. . . .

For LeBron James, every game is a nail-biter. . . .

His mother must cringe every time he sticks his fingers in his mouth. . . .

Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics, an NBA-best 31-10 on the road during the season, are winless outside Boston in the playoffs. . . .

Saturday's forgettable cumulative line for the Dodgers and Angels: no runs, six hits, one error. . . .

Friday and Sunday weren't much better. . . .

If the Players Championship becomes golf's fifth major, as Phil Mickelson and numerous others have suggested, Tiger Woods' number of major championships would increase by one to 14. . . .

Jack Nicklaus' total would increase by three to 21. . . .

Before the weekend, Gasol told the New York Times he was motivated to finish off the Jazz because he'd been invited to a performance of "Tosca" by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, general director of the Los Angeles Opera. . . .

He'll now have to wait longer till the fat lady sings. . . .

The allegations sound bad for O.J. Mayo, worse for USC.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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