by Lang Whitaker

Well, SLAM issue 129 is out the door and at the printer. Now, depending on how fast the old dude at the copy shop can hit the “PRINT” button, copies should be hitting newstands near you in about 3 weeks or so. I’m not going to tip our hand, but it’s another dope cover. Start saving your change now!

While we’ll have game notes coming from all the various series writers, just wanted to run through tonight’s games really quickly.

I flipped on the Lakers game at halftime, and Utah was up 43-39, and Kobe was 1-for-10 from the floor. The Lakers then outscored the Jazz in the third, 33-17, as the Jazz started crumbling. But the Jazz found their groove and regained the lead. In the fourth, Carlos Boozer kept the Jazz in the game. There was a lot of weird stuff down the stretch — Kobe shooting twice (and missing twice) over a double team, Deron Williams getting called for an unforced 8-second violation — but Boozer drew fouls and got to the line and finished with 23 and 22. Deron Williams hit the game-winner, but Boozer might have created a new Where Amazing Happens commercial with his dunk on Pau Gasol.

I know Utah is now down 2-1, but I still think the Lakers are the team to beat for a title. And I still think it’s a Lakers/Cavs Finals. I know, not exactly out on a limb there. But that’s how I feel.

The two early games made it easy for me to watch “The Office” and “30 Rock” — best line was from Alec Baldwin to Tina Fey: “Liz, I’m 50 years old, that’s like 32 in woman years.” — because the basketball games were such blowouts I didn’t have to watch. Ryne told me he thought the Bulls could lose tonight, and I said I thought the Bulls might win a laugher. Turns out Boston crushed Chicago, 107-86. My favorite stat was the steals at halftime: Boston 10, Chicago 0.

In Dallas, the Spurs just didn’t even show up. Dallas came out hot, and by the third quarter the score was 62-36 when Pop gave up and yanked the starters. Dallas went on to win 88-67. I wanted to link to a video of Pop’s postgame press conference, where he threw all the box scores off the table while laughing at how bad their performance was, but it wasn’t on YouTube yet. HOWEVA!, when I was searching on YouTube, this was the first Pop video that came up…

As Marv said, “Look out!” No kidding. (My favorite part of that video is that whoever uploaded it titled it “Gregg Popovich Gets What He Deserves.”

Oh, and the Hawks have banned Spirit the Hawk from the Game 5 introductions. I’ll be the first to admit that a Hawks flying down from the roof to halfcourt doesn’t seem all that menacing, but it’s pretty cool in person. Then again, having a live hawk flying around in the crowd and over the court during a game might not be a great idea. If I was that hawk’s trainer I’d be teaching him how to double D-Wade.