For at least a game, bad karma can take a leap

Doubters and fate will just have to wait for an implosion from the underdogs.
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The Jazz pulled one of the biggest reversals of fortune in their playoff history on Monday night, essentially telling the fates themselves -- and all doubters, too -- that they could shove it in Game 2 of the Jazz's first-round series with the Nuggets.

You already know the Jazz misfortune suffered over the past five days, including blown opportunities, blown home-court advantage, blown Achilles tendons, and blown calf rehabs.

The Jazz were cooked, then, and everybody knew it.

Except for them.

They, too, may have suspected it, but there was enough wiggle room and wondering left in their minds, and enough will, to stir a remarkable 114-111 win Monday night.

Bad luck, apparently, can take a hike.

Bad karma can take a flying leap.

At least until Game 3 in Salt Lake on Friday.

Deron Williams, who holds more sway with the Jazz, on and off the court, than Jerry Sloan or anyone else, pushed his team to victory here, scoring 33 points and tossing 14 assists.

Before this game tipped, Williams knew playoff basketball isn't the time or place for solitary pursuits. He came clean on the point, saying he couldn't do all the climbing and hauling himself against the Nuggets.

That road is too steep, the load too heavy.

On the other hand, what is Williams supposed to do with Othyus Jeffers to the left of him and Kyrylo Fesenko to the right?

"I definitely have to do a lot," he said. "That's my job as leader of this team. I have to step up. We have to play basketball. Talk is cheap. But I can't win this series by myself. We have to play as a team."

What's left of it, anyway.

And that's exactly what the Jazz did.

Actually, it was a little of both.

Williams did his thing, scoring 23 of his points in the first half, hitting two huge free throws at the end, and his teammates pitched in.

Carlos Boozer got 20 points and 14 boards.

Paul Millsap added 18 points.

C.J. Miles had 17, including two clutch foul shots.

The Nuggets had said they were expecting Williams to be more aggressive in Game 2. Carmelo Anthony even said he hoped Williams would try to do the heavy lifting himself because the Nuggets could then collectively dial in on him, making their effort more simple and singular.

It didn't work out that way.

The Jazz outscored the Nuggets in the first quarter by three, at the half by 12, midway through the third quarter by 14, and at the end of the third by six.

They clung to a slim margin through to the conclusion.

Meanwhile, the Jazz indicated that, back at the Nugs, they would throw up more resistance, different resistance, concentrated, physical resistance, against Anthony.

After his 42 points in Game 1, he totaled 32 this time, but missed 16 shots.

And the Jazz found a way to outscore the Nuggets, by shooting an efficient 53 percent and playing just enough defense.

"They played good defense," Adrian Dantley acknowledged.

Among the committee of defenders assigned to Anthony was Wesley Matthews, who said he was "excited" to take his turns on the prolific forward. As noted, the committee at times struggled, but the team won.

It scratched and clawed through a tight fourth quarter for its playoff life. In the process, the Jazz transformed desperation into hope.

"I'm proud of them," said Sloan.

Matthews said the Jazz were teetering on the brink, so they wanted to find out what they were, where they were, who they were in Game 2.

They found out.

So did the fates.


hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at