At least the Utah fans still have Idol to cheer

A review of Lakers playoff game No. 10 -- eight wins to go.

SALT LAKE CITY -- You can just imagine the excitement here in the Beehive State, named for a woman's hairstyle by the way, and very popular by the look of the locals.

Of course there's always excitement in the air here, which explains why Utah has the highest birth rate in the country.

But now everybody is really pumped with the chances of winning it all, the parade looking like a reality.

Just one more great effort from their star performer, and then Utah's very own David Archuleta will become the country's newest American Idol.

As for its basketball team, there's a reason why Utah is first in the country in filling anti-depressant prescriptions.

Utahans love their basketball team because they've got nothing else going for them, and did I mention Utah has the highest birth rate in the country?

But as much as they love their basketball team -- "get loud and be proud," as the scoreboard reads -- it has to be hard doing that given Utah's boring, sluggish brand of play.

These guys also have a problem when it comes to delivering championships.

And a championship was apparently the furthest thing from the mind of Andrei Kirilenko, who opted to miss practice before Friday's must-win to get visas for the family vacation -- which might very well start today.

Makes you wonder about the banner hanging over the EnergySolutions court: "One team, one dream."


TAKE AWAY the Wasatch Mountains and this is Nebraska, all these people crazy loud for their team in the hopes it does something special and reminds the rest of the country that this place exists.

Hey, when your state legislature actually passes a resolution naming Jell-O as the official snack food of the state, you're really looking for an excuse to be known for something.

Archuleta's rise to prominence helps, though, and although he was born in Florida and only moved here about four years ago, I would imagine his second choice was Lincoln.

So far, the 17-year-old Archuleta has been on his game, which is more than any one around here can say about Carlos Boozer.

The media critics here, though, are about as tough as Paula Abdul, so Boozer has been getting a free ride. But Utah goes as he goes, which explains why the Jazz appears doomed.


PREGAME: Roseanne Barr was born in Utah, but the first clue she isn't singing the National Anthem are the whistles for Heather Elmer, who might model as well as sing, I presume.

The Jazz shoots off fireworks to start the game, not risking the chance of never getting the opportunity to do so once the game is over.

These people are loud, all right. I can't really check it out, but knowing the drinking policy in this state, I wonder if they make every fan buy a $4 membership before buying a beer at the game. You do that in L.A., and I know people would yell like crazy all game long.


FIRST QUARTER: Boozer misses his first shot, and it's 7-0 Lakers. Kirilenko misses his first shot -- must be a little rusty. Kobe Bryant gets a layup for his first shot. He doesn't miss.

Utah looks as if it has plans as a team to join Kirilenko in France. Next series is scheduled to begin Wednesday, the Lakers are already up by 10, and a win tonight will give Bryant time to heal.

Lamar Odom goes right over the top of Matt Harpring for a mighty slam, and for the last month the argument can be made that Odom has consistently been the Lakers' best performer on the floor. When he plays this way, he is one of the 10 best players in the NBA.

This is so easy, and embarrassing for the locals. Phil Jackson has Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic on the floor, Bryant on the bench and it's only the first quarter.


SECOND QUARTER: Utah has no celebrities, so they only had common folk sitting at courtside. It was like a Clippers crowd.

It's scrubs versus scrubs now, and it really is a Clippers game. Pau Gasol is the only Lakers starter out there, it's Lakers by 15, and you get the feeling that a hard nut like Jerry Sloan has already had it with the vacationing Kirilenko who played seven minutes and went 0 for 2 before finding a spot on the bench.

Later, we learn he's just saving Kirilenko to make it close in the end.

Get loud and get nothing in return, the fans here watching their heroes fall behind by 18, and in addition, tomorrow they will wake up and still find themselves living in Utah.

Down by 16, Boozer makes a power move inside, the whistle blows and Joey Crawford calls a charge on Boozer. We know he doesn't like Tim Duncan but had no idea he's got it in for Booozer too.

The fans are chanting, "Ref, you suck," because "Boozer, you suck," just doesn't have the same ring. The refs do have it in for Utah, but I only write that to feed the fans' paranoia. They ought to get something for still supporting these stiffs.


THIRD QUARTER: Utah gets a four- on-two break, the ball goes to Boozer and he clanks it off the rim. Remember when Jack Haley had Boozer being traded to the Lakers? Remember Jack Haley?

Did you know they had the characters in the movie, "Around the World in Eighty Days" riding a train through Utah, and very quickly. Let's hope this quarter goes the same way, the only thing in debate now, how much the Lakers win by.


FOURTH QUARTER: Archuleta and Jazz have the same impact on fans, bringing them to tears. Boozer fouls out with 12, Jazz gets shot after shot to tie it, but Lakers win by three.

That kid better sing his little heart out on American Idol, or this place won't have anything going for it.


TODAY'S LAST word comes in an e-mail from John J. Bourgeois: "Your attack toward Andruw Jones is extremely unprofessional . . . how do you expect a player to react when he is being attacked and called names like Tubbo?"

Looking at Jones, I'd expect him to have another doughnut.


T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to

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