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News » Failure to launch

Failure to launch

Failure to launch It's a good thing the Utah Jazz don't base attendance figures by who's left at the end of games. Heck, on Monday night, it was a good thing they didn't do a head count with four minutes remaining. About that time ? at the tail end of a major meltdown by the home team ?

thousands of spectators decided they'd seen enough and began flooding the EnergySolutions Arena exits. They missed a couple of meaningless late dunks by Jazz players. But the frustrated fleeing flock obviously didn't mind missing what the scoreboard displayed at the final buzzer ? a shocking score in visiting Houston's favor of 113-96. "I don't blame them," Jazz shooting guard Ronnie Brewer said. "We didn't play well at all. We didn't put forth the effort. If I was a fan, I would've left early, too." Disgruntled fans didn't just head out before the final buzzer of a game that turned ugly for Utah early in the fourth quarter when the no-name Rockets turned a tied contest into a blowout. Jazz fans also loudly booed their team, which got outhustled, outplayed and outscored by 17 points in the final 10-plus minutes. The resounding chorus of Bronx cheers rang in Utah players' ears. "Anytime in the third game of the season you're getting booed in your home arena," said Deron Williams, "you're not going to feel good." Fact of the matter is, Jazz players weren't exactly thrilled with their own play, either. Especially disconcerting for Utah is how the struggling and inconsistent 1-2 squad is looking a whole lot like the team that ended last year with a thud. Not to bring back bad memories, but the Jazz lost seven of their final nine regular-season games and got shellacked by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. "It's like we picked up right where we left off. We haven't played a good game of Basketball yet," Williams said. "It doesn't look too good right now from the inside. I'm sure it doesn't look good from the outside." Tell the fans about it. "We owe it to them and our families and ourselves and our coaching staff to play hard, night in, night out, 48 minutes. I think at times we didn't do that," Brewer added. "We didn't execute on defense. We didn't execute on offense. It didn't shock me when people were leaving." The Rockets seemed to thrive off of the atmosphere. Houston had eight different players score in double figures, led by super-quick point guard Aaron Brooks' 19 and a 17-point effort from rookie Chase Budinger. The Rockets outrebounded the Jazz (46-38), had way more assists (29-18) committed five fewer turnovers (19-14). Utah was also outscored 34-20 in the decisive fourth quarter and by 20 points in the second half against the smaller, quicker, scrappier Rockets. "I mean if you're not going to defend, it's pretty tough to have a chance to win," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "If you can't keep people in front of you on the attack, defensively, then you're going to have a tough time." Sloan said the Jazz were selfish in the way they played (or didn't play) team defense from the get-go, an attitude and effort he felt allowed for easy layups because nobody helped out. "That's not winning Basketball," Sloan said. "That's just taking the paycheck and going home." Utah doesn't have much time to regroup, what with a tough back-to-back match-up in Dallas tonight. But Williams says the Jazz , who talked a lot about playing better defense but have allowed opponents to score an average of 108 points, simply have to refocus and come together. And now. "What else can you do?" Williams said. "We've got the players we've got. We've got the coach we've got. We've got the coaching staff we've got. We've got to go out there and get wins." Utah rallied back to tie it at 80-all, and things seemed to be headed in the Jazz's favor. Williams made a shot and the home crowd expected him to get a chance at a three-point play. But he was called for an offensive foul for slightly lowering his shoulder into the defending Rocket. Instead of having a chance to go ahead 83-80, the Jazz quickly collapsed while Houston went on a 7-0 spurt in a fast 10-point swing. The Rockets ran away with it from there. Williams didn't elaborate on that play when asked. He also acknowledged that might have been the turning point. But he thought his team struggled all night. "I think it was the whole game," Williams said. "I don't just look at the fourth quarter. ... We didn't have much energy. Our offense was stagnant." Mehmet Okur led Utah with 21 points, Brewer added 19 and Williams and Andrei Kirilenko each chipped in with 18, but the Jazz only shot 45 percent as a team. GAME NOTES: Utah had won three straight and six of seven at home against the Rockets ... Rookie Wesley Matthews scored for the first time in his short NBA and finished with a career-bests of six points and 16 minutes of action ... The Jazz have trailed entering the fourth quarter in all three games this year. The were behind 79-76 after a buzzer-beating Kirilenko jumper at the end of three. e-mail:

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Added: November 4, 2009


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