A review of Laker playoff game No. 9 -- nine wins to go.
Some folks have asked lately if I'm going soft.
One of them, by the way, was not Andruw Jones.
Scully & Wooden have yet to go on stage, but it's incredible the good will they're inspiring, $2,000 more coming in Wednesday to send more deserving people to the June 13 event, and the Angels stepping forward with $10,000 to buy tickets for 100 Big Brothers and Sisters along with their young counterparts.
It's like everyone I know now is really nice -- Page 2 only averaging two e-mails a day recently from folks still hoping a truck runs me over -- so you can understand why I'd hate to ruin such a good feeling and bump into Gary Matthews any time soon.
I even found myself thinking very nice things about Kobe Bryant and the mature way he handled himself after the Lakers' tough loss in Game 4, and for that matter the way he has conducted himself through these playoffs.
His demeanor has been noticeably different. There doesn't seem to be a chip on his shoulder -- maybe that trophy completing some kind of satisfying circle for him.
He hasn't taken on the refs, has remained composed during the most difficult times, and has been very much the leader. He's playing each game and each series like he knows the outcome and where the Lakers are headed.
And while I'm at it, has Lamar Odom ever been more aggressive, or played better?
Sorry. I've not gone soft; I've turned to mush.
I've either got to take a break from all these good folks interested in hearing from Scully & Wooden, or spend some time with Matthews and get back on track ripping big losers.
PREGAME: I'm pulling hard for Phil Jackson now to win another NBA title and vault by Red Auerbach because I won a Phil Jackson autographed basketball at the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission golf outing, and just imagine how valuable it will be if the Lakers don't gag.
Nothing like a great national anthem singer to get the crowd going, and Davis Gaines rocked the place with a playoff-worthy performance. Now if only the Lakers are as good.
FIRST QUARTER: A Utah back breaker -- Bryant opens with a three-pointer, and then quickly adds another basket. So much for how's Bryant feeling?
Chargers Coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith are sitting courtside, obviously to get a feel of what a playoff game is like. They'll be gone by the next round, of course.
The reason people buy lottery tickets is the same reason why Jackson continues to start Vladimir Radmanovic -- never know when he might actually hit it big. Radmanovic hit three threes in a row, a scratch-off winner, if you want to carry this one step further.
SECOND QUARTER: Lakers start quarter with three-point lead; oddsmakers say they will win this game by around nine. Makes you wonder how they knew Bryant's back would feel so good.
Mr. Posh is sitting at courtside with some bloke. He must relate to Jordan Farmar, knowing how hard it is to score in this game. Farmar, of course, is more popular in this town.
Lakers by 12, and yet you know no one in Utah has turned off their TV because what else is there to do. Lakers by three -- just like that, and it's almost as if the NBA arranges it like that.
THIRD QUARTER: Just noticed Andy Garcia. He's one of the celebrities who taped a question for Scully & Wooden. It wasn't very good, but I thanked him the other day and told him I was going to put his picture on the screen and ask Scully & Wooden what they see in him since Garcia has been the wife's all-time dreamboat. He didn't get it. I told him it was a joke, and he acted as if he had never heard of one of those. He got mad. "I do a guy a favor and this is what I get," he huffed while turning away. Can't wait to tell the wife her dreamboat is such a stick in the mud.
Yowza, 73-73 and time for someone to remind the Jazz they are 0-4 here this season and 3-16 overall in this building.
Farmar has a wide-open net at the buzzer, but misses. If it had been a Galaxy game, no one would have noticed.
FOURTH QUARTER: 81-81 to start it off, but Odom comes on like the superstar he's always had the ability to be. Lakers by six halfway through, and did you notice Pau Gasol falls down more than a novice ice skater?
Lakers by five, Utah can't score and Lakers can't put them away. And now a technical on Sasha Vujacic for getting into Kyle Korver's face. Not very smart, and if this game comes down to one point . . .
Mehmet Okur has chance to tie it in final minute with a three, misses, then gets pushed in back by Gasol and out of play so Gasol can score. Sasha couldn't be happier.
This was a game that the Jazz could have swiped, but they lose by seven, return to Utah and now must win two in a row.
How's the weather this time of year in New Orleans?
TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Aaron Nayfack:
"Last Father's Day my family gathered at a nursing home to be with my grandfather who was near the end of a long struggle with lymphoma and Alzheimer's disease. It was a beautiful, sunny day, we sat on the patio with him and my grandmother and he smiled and laughed, although I'm not sure he really understood anymore.
"Roughly a month later, he passed away and then my grandmother -- married to my grandfather for almost 59 years -- followed a few months later.
"As I approached my first Father's day without my grandfather in life, I wasn't sure what to do. When I read about "Scully& Wooden," it seemed like the place where my grandfather would want to be. All the proceeds are going to a cause I know he would support. So I bought myself two tickets for the event. One for me, and one for my grandfather. I'm thinking of leaving the second seat vacant just in case he wants to pop in and listen for a while." Perfect.