A “Final Four” Blast from the Past

Seems Lake Old Times — Jazz makes it hard in the end after coming out soft, but Salt-Lakers are impotent to Halt Lakers from limping into the Western Finals for the first time in 4 years

Never hire a Kidd to do a Man’s job… especially when you already have Derek Fisher, who IS “The Man.”

All of the Laker fans who wanted Mitch Kupchak to trade for Jason Kidd at the trading deadline have the Basketball IQ of Mark Cuban, and owe Mr. Kupchak an apology.  While Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks were dragged down to a 7th Seed and 1st Round exit in the Playoffs by Kidd’s anchor-like addition, the Lakers have relied on a strict combination of Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar to climb to the #1 seed, and now earn a trip to the Conference Finals.

The Lakers came out on fire in Salt Lake City in Game 6, building an early lead that ballooned to 19 points at the break.  While Farmar continued to NOT excel in this Series, Fisher more than made up for it.  Fisher scored 13 points in the First Half on 4-5 shooting, and his 3 Steals and all-around Defensive pressure forced the Jazz out of their rhythm.  Thanks to tough Phil Jackson-inspired Defense, Utah was held to 38% shooting.    Meanwhile, Utah couldn’t keep up with the Lakers’ transition game, and the Jazz “Defense” couldn’t keep Pau Gasol and his teammates out of the paint.

It almost goes without saying, but Season MVP Kobe Bryant was the MVP of this game too.  Despite being saddled with a sore back, he scored 34 points, including 10 in a row when the Jazz made their one big push in the 4th Quarter.

When the Jazz had cut the lead to 7, Kobe completed two remarkable three-point plays, to get the lead right back up to 13.  But the Jazz refused to quit.  They were down 10 with 2 minutes to go, and down 6 with 1 minute to go.  Then, they made two threes in a row to make it a one-possession game.  And with time running out, Utah had two decent looks at game-tying three point shots, but missed them both, to end their season with a 108-105 heartbreaker.

All the Utah fans will complain that the Refs conspired to give the game to L.A,. but you can file those sour grapes in the same file as all the b.s. anti-UCLA whining that happened in March.  The Lakers got a couple of calls, but Utah got away with a huge goal-tending, the overall fouls were even thoughout most of the game, and all the fouls against Utah in the last few minutes were completely legit.  The Jazz and Coach Jerry Sloan should be commended for not saying “die,” but despite the Utah fans throwing garbage on the Court, and the classy, stadium-wide chants of “Referees Suck!” Jazz fans should be looking more at the Jazz, who missed several clutch shots and were incredibly sloppy with the ball at several junctures in the Series.

A good sign for the Lakers going into the next Round is that all five of their Starters scored in double-figures.  They almost HAVE to, since the bench outside of Sasha Vujacic is NOT producing any Offense.  But the point is, that the more-mature Kobe is NOT trying to do it all himself.  The team is more formidable when it is balanced, so you can almost thank Kobe’s bad back — It is partially the reason why he is taking a back seat at times, and allowing Gasol, Fisher, and Lamar Odom to shine.

The only negative to be found here… happens to be a huge one.  For the first time in his entire career, Farmar is NOT living up to expectations.  At Taft, he made Woodland Hills a Basketball Mecca;  At UCLA, he led his underdog team to the National Championship game, and as a Rookie in the NBA, he over-achieved, and impressed the very-rarely-impressed-by-a short-Rookie-Guard Phil Jackson, who inserted him into the Starting Line-up by the time he had a Season under his belt and the Lakers went up against the Phoenix Suns. 

Of course, getting the nod over Smush Parker isn’t saying much, and Steve Nash made Farmar look like a Rook, but Farmar was still ahead of where he was SUPPOSED to be at that young age.   Coming off the bench for the Lakers this season, as a tandem with Fisher, Farmar had improved in every important category, as L.A.’s second unit (with Sasha, Luke Walton and Ronny Turiaf) had a League-wide reputation for being scrappy, tough, and solid.  As the Lakers swept away Denver, everything was still going fine.  But when they went up against Utah, the Second Unit became a distinct liability.  Farmar’s +/- numbers were NOT good.  Even in Friday night’s win, he was a (minus) -8;  By comparison, Vlad Radmanovic was a +17.

Farmar’s slump is noticeable, as the ESPN announcers actually mentioned that Farmar had flat-out “lost his confidence.”  Never before since the first time since Jordan (Farmar OR Michael) picked up a Basketball has THAT phrase been uttered about Farmar.  Farmar has conquered every adversity that he has ever encountered, and as long as JACKSON DOESN’T LOSE CONFIDENCE IN HIM, we predict that Jordan will rebound nicely in the next Series.  And we don’t mean “Rebound” as in grabbing caroms — we actually were thinking more about Assists, Steals, and Points.  And maybe NOT getting BEAT on Defense every time his man has the ball.  See what we mean?  Words of that nature didn’t used to get written about Farmar.  It’s strange that Farmar, Josh Shipp, and Arron Afflalo (last year) all suffered PROLONGED slumps towards the end of the Season. 

As far as Phil trusting Farmar, he has little choice — Unless he puts Odom at Point Guard, which would be ludicrous considering how productive L.O. has been in these Playoffs, he doesn’t have many options.  Fisher is too old to play more minutes, and Phil probably wants Vujacic catching and shooting, as opposed to trying to Run the Triangle.  Speaking of the Roster, it is almost CERTAIN that the Lakers will regain the services of the recuperated Trevor Ariza against New Orleans (or San Antonio, if a Road team can win a Game 7).

The limping Lakers might be the best team in the League AS IS, but could you imagine them with Ariza, Kobe, and Andrew Bynum all in there at 100%?  The point is, that Mitch Kupchak let Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Shaq go, kept Kobe, and has built what could be a mini-dynasty of its own — He won’t have to go to great extremes to still have the Best Team in the League next year too.  Now it’s up to Farmar to REMAIN A PART OF IT.  If he doesn’t step it up in the Conference Finals, he might join Smush Parker and Eddie Jones as Playoff-casualty EX-Lakers.  This must be KILLING our old friend “Bruingirl,” who used to have a “Corner” on the old version of the site.  Anyone else wonder if she’s any relation to our new friend “Josephine Bruin?”  Have you ever seen both of them in the same place?

And speaking of old friends, it looks like O.J. Mayo has really stepped right into it, with his Denial comments, after the NCAA re-launched investigations into his wrongdoings.  Mayo claims that all his special luxuries that he has been enjoying, he paid for with money that his family and friends have given him.  Didn’t Mayo see “Outside the Lines?”  Doesn’t he know that one of the major pieces of hard evidence is the stack of receipts from money being WIRED from Rodney Guillory and Louis Johnson TO Mayo’s FRIENDS?  It seems like O.J. just CONFIRMED one of the claims against him.

In another accidental admission, Mayo said that with all his family’s hardships, they would need a lot more than $30,000 — the amount he is accused of receiving — to fix the problems, so there is no way he would sell out for just 30K.  The unavoidable implication is that he WOULD sell out for a higher amount.  Finally — an indisputable statement from an O.J.  And not to sound holier-than-O.J. — we would sell out too… And all WE want is for the NCAA to finally show some integrity… or an All-Access Press Pass.

Speaking of integrity, here are 5 more photos of the UCLA Dance Team from Fall, 2005, back in the days before we truly appreciated Mollie and her students the way we do today.  And due to the feedback, “Kylene” is in all 5 shots (we THINK — You know how we are with names).  We just hope that Kylene doesn’t develop a fan club here with quite the enthusiasm that Brianna’s had!

  You NEED speakers THAT big, to have audio that lives up to the visual.

  Giving you the whole NINE yards.

…and we call this “Dressed to the NINES.”

I’m suddenly looking forward to the Homecoming Game!

UCLA Spirit:  #1 in the Land for at least 4 years, with this coming year already a lock.



  1. jp Avatar

    thanks t-h!

    This too was one of our all-time great squads.

    Kylene is GORGEOUS!

    I was devastated when I found out she was not going to be part of the team the following year but Katie’s arrival softened the blow.

    This was also Whitney’s last year and she of course is also one of our hall of famers.

    But Kylene needs to come back. I know a lot of people who thought she was their favorite dance member.

  2. James Avatar

    My cousin goes to Cal and had this comment:

    “The Cal Dance Team is far and away hotter than UCLA’s”

    Makes me think the US News rankings must be wrong

    [T-H’s note: That’s the most absurd comment I have ever heard here, that wasn’t from an ignorant trojan. If anyone else makes the same outlandish claim, I will be forced to post some photos from Cal games that EMPHATICALLY drive my point home].

  3. Robert Avatar

    Katie reminds me of Kylene, After Kylene left I was very saddened by her departure, but when I saw Katie all I could do is look up to the sky and thank God for sending our way an even more beautiful Angel that Katie is, such a perfection beyond measure. Thank you God! 😉

  4. jason Avatar

    Hasn’t Kristin been on the dance team for 3 years?

    [T-H’s Note: Yes she has. P.S. — I’m sorry for truncating your (probably accurate) comment. Some of the members of the Dance Team frequent this site, and I didn’t want them to read between those lines, if you know what I mean. If you want to try to re-phrase your view as just an innocently objective observation, I might approve it. Thanks, and again, I’m sorry — You really SHOULD be able to make any judgement that you like.]