Cheeky Jazz climb over the Hill

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    By SCOTT BELL

    Michael Jordan’s “air” apparent made his annual visit to Salt Lake City Monday evening.

    Grant Hill, now in his fourth year in the NBA, and his Detroit Pistons teammates took on the Utah Jazz Monday, falling 98-89.

    Hill’s basketball prowess has been under a national microscope ever since he helped Duke win the NCAA title as a freshman. Against the Jazz, Hill didn’t disappoint, showing off an array of gravity-defying layups and dunks.

    Although he finished the game with 26 points, it was hardly Hill’s greatest performance. He made only eight field goals in 23 attempts and was only 10-16 from the foul line.

    The third quarter was especially tough for Hill. He missed all nine shots he took and made only one free throw in four attempts as Utah erased Detroit’s halftime lead.

    “It felt like there was just a lid on the rim there,” Hill said. “I don’t know the last time I’ve had a quarter like that. It’s been a while, but I’ve had them this year.”

    Indeed, this season has been somewhat of a sidetrack on Hill’s ascension to the NBA throne. Of course, disappointing is a relative term when referring to Hill. He’s still averaging 21.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game. But his shooting percentage has slipped to 43 percent and more importantly, his Pistons have struggled to an 18-20 record.

    Last year, Detroit won more than 50 games for the first time since the Bad Boys’ days. But this season the team has struggled amid rumors of problems between coach Doug Collins and the players.

    Lately, things have been turning around for Hill and Co. Before coming to Utah, the Pistons had won five of their last seven games, and Hill had averaged 33 points in his last three games.

    MEDIA BASHING: Jazz players were in high spirits following Monday’s win over the Pistons. They showed it by taking the opportunity to rip on some members of the Salt Lake media.

    Chris Morris, who played his first significant minutes in a long time against the Pistons, refused to talk to the press after the game. Center Greg Ostertag acted as Morris’ liaison.

    “You sure you don’t want to talk to all these people?” Ostertag asked Morris.

    “They didn’t want to talk to me then; I’m not going to talk to them now,” Morris said.

    “You’re going to disappoint a lot of people,” Ostertag said.

    “I don’t care,” Morris said.

    “He’s so nice,” Ostertag said to the press.

    At this point, David Locke, of KFAN radio, reported that Morris wasn’t talking to the media. “Like you had a chance even if he was talking,” Ostertag said to KFAN’s DavidLocke. At this point, Bryon Russell couldn’t resist jumping in. Russell referred to Locke trying to “crucify” Jazz players when they played bad.

    Ostertag then took a playful shot at Michael C. Lewis from The Salt Lake Tribune, saying he would probably “have it in the paper tomorrow, making it something it’s not.”

    Hopefully, for the media’s sake, the Jazz won’t celebrate like that after every win.

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