Last night felt gray and cold and inhospitable. Not sure how or why a pitch-black night would feel gray but at the very least I was in a funk, one of those off-balance places where the throat’s scratchy and the world moves haltingly and the skin feels paper thin. Beware of darkness. The State of the Union was on and while I freely admit to being a fan of presidents who play basketball, the speech didn’t do much for me. It just seemed like a lot of peace-making talk about growing the economy, with marginal enthusiasm from either side. At this point in the life of American democracy the same pleas for compromise feel stale and tired, I can’t honestly recall a united congress during my lifetime and the most winning moments on a national scale usually come from trench warfare.
The night turned on a dime as it sometimes does, listening to a radio feed when alerted via tweet that the Lakers/Jazz were on NBA TV as the fan favorite pick of the week or some such. I caught hold of this unexpected bonanza late in the first period and rode with ever increasing contentment, though the entire lopsided train wreck - a 29-point margin and it didn’t feel that close. It’s not a good time to be the Jazz right now, it was their 5th loss in a row and would be followed by tonight’s loss at home to the Spurs. I wasn’t paying much attention to this particular debacle as I typed, figuring some things to simply be preordained but the Jazz did manage a late flurry that brought them momentarily close. I got distracted, burning a batch of chocolate chip cookies and catching up on important internet news items. Did you know that Dennis Kucinich is suing some restaurant for $150,000 because they put an un-pitted olive in his sandwich?
Last night's major deconstuction happened in the first half, a rending of stripped gears as Kobe fed the beast inside - Andrew Bynum turned in another man-sized performance at both ends of the floor. The hopelessness around you. Steve Blake also did damage early, short minutes providing points, boards, dimes, a steal and easily controlling a jump ball against Andrei Kiilenko and it wasn't even close. Artest played tenacious perimeter defense and Lamar Odom scored 17 off the bench, including a stunning behind the backboard floater as he sailed out of bounds. The fourth quarter was occasion for quality garbage minutes, the mood was so resolutely awesome that Shannon Brown’s butchered (and uncontested) dunk was cause for joyous brotherhood.
Not much to say about the Jazz in all of this. Kirilenko and Hayward each ran up and down the floor with their long locks shimmering in the lights like a Breck commercial, accomplishing little else. Some other guys also played, if you’d call it that. Jerry Sloan deserves better. I wasn’t thinking of it though, instead caught up in the transcendent stretches, the celebration of basketball, the visceral joy of an us-against-them beat-down that at least for me, gives way to quiet, more reflective moments, when once again it’s much too late, when the television goes off and the keyboard’s abandoned and duty calls to take the dog out one last time, shivering against the cold and willing him to hurry, when a warm bed beckons and morning will come too soon, when solitary thoughts can linger and surround in the dead of the night, kept away by the links inside our heads. And rocked to sleep with a great version of a song.