So the Lakers finally know who they are playing in the second round: The Utah Jazz, which disposed of the Houston Rockets 113-91 Friday night to close out their first-round playoff series in six games.
After four days of waiting, the Lakers have a rather quick turnaround. Game 1 will be Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.
The Lakers went 3-1 against the Jazz this season, including a victory in Salt Lake. That’s no small feat considering the Jazz had the league’s best home record this season.
So who is the happiest to be playing the Jazz?
Hard to say actually. The guys were pretty antsy at practice today.
Joked Jordan Farmar: “For me it doesn’t matter. I think I’ll be alright, but I’m young. Some of the older guys are probably ready to get out there and get started as soon as possible.”
Said the presumptive MVP, Kobe Bryant:
“I hope Utah wins, so I answer some questions about Utah. It gets boring answering all the same old questions.”
Derek Fisher, who played for the Jazz last year and remains close with many of the players on the team, said he’d been pulling for Utah to win in the first round, because of the warm feelings he still has for the organization. But now that Utah is the Lakers next opponent, things have changed.
“I’d be pulling for them again (if they weren’t the Lakers opponent), just because I’m so fond of the organization, the team, the owner, Larry Miller and (general manager) Kevin O’Connor for the blessing they laid at the feet of my family. I’m always going to be thankful, and happy for them and any success they have.
It’s just kind of unfortunate that in the second round, I have to put all those feeling aside and treat them as the enemy, so to speak.”
Fisher said that the Lakers four regular season games against the Jazz, including two in Utah, have helped his transition.
“I think that early season meeting, when the crowd reacted the way it did, I think that was kind of the wake-up that, things are different now, life is changed and people have moved on. That was kind of cleansing, in a sense, and kind of put a closer on emotions that were there.
“There will obviously still be some (emotions), but I don’t think anything that will linger past a normal playoff feeling you’d have in this situation. I think it’ll be bumping up against my former guys for however many games we have to play and try to win to close out the series.”