SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz’s unlikely hero Wednesday night, Derek Fisher, gave an explanation about his sick daughter after his team’s 127-117 NBA playoff victory against the Golden State Warriors.
After the game, he told how serious 10-month-old Tatum’s condition was. She has retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer that required a three-hour combination of surgery and chemotherapy at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital.
“My daughter’s doing well,” Fisher said. “We had a successful operation in New York and I flew back and got off the plane and came to the game. I’m speechless.”
Fisher missed most of the first three quarters because of Tatum’s surgery, then ran straight from the tunnel onto the court late in the third period to a standing ovation and a few high-fives and hugs from teammates.
“He got off the plane. He didn’t warm up. He didn’t stretch. He didn’t shoot a shot,” said Utah’s Deron Williams, who had 17 points and 14 assists. “As soon as he came into the arena, he went straight to the scorers’ table.”
It was an emotional night for the Jazz, who lost rookie point guard Dee Brown to a neck injury in the first quarter.
Physically, the Jazz really needed Fisher. But his psychological impact was much, much greater and is now going to be an indelible part of the Jazz’s season and history.
Utah had to rally to force overtime after Golden State went on a 12-1 run late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors missed six free throws in the fourth quarter, three after taking the late lead.
Carlos Boozer had 30 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, while Okur added 23 points and 18 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko had 20 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.
Fisher scored all five of his points in overtime.
“I asked him if he was all right and he said he was,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “He’s gone through a lot the last few days and basketball was probably a good opportunity for him.”