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News » Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-04-30

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-04-30

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2009-04-30
As they head into the off-season, the Jazz are very much caught between a rock and a hard place. They are an organization that has valued continuity more than any other in the NBA, with the same coach for two decades, one who was just elected to the Hall of Fame.

They had the same two stars in place for a generation with Karl Malone and John Stockton, yet after being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Lakers, the Jazz very well could be in for an off-season of upheaval.

The Jazz were ravaged by injuries, losing 157 games to injuries or absences, but went just 16-15 at full strength (or close to it) after Carlos Boozer returned from knee surgery Feb. 23. That included a 2-7 finish to the regular season that dropped them to the No. 8 seed.

They suffered a series of embarrassing losses on the road to Portland, Denver and Dallas, by an average of 20 points, followed by a catastrophic home loss to a seven-man Golden State team on April 11 that doomed them to the series against the Lakers.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan clearly values continuity when it comes to young players like Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap, but Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko just might have played their final games in Utah.

As the Jazz tried to mount a comeback from 22 points down in the second half of Game 5 against the Lakers, they did so behind seldom-used No. 3 point guard Ronnie Price. Neither Boozer nor Kirilenko saw action in the fourth quarter.

"We've got to figure some things out internally, I think, figure out ways to play harder and bring a different effort every night," Deron Williams said. "We're not getting that effort every night from everybody and we've got to have that."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Jazz were still in search of a season-defining victory when they hosted the Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break. They rode Deron Williams' 31 points and 11 assists and a late three-pointer by Mehmet Okur to a 113-109 victory, doing what Boston and Cleveland had failed to do in the previous week and defend their home court against the Lakers. The Jazz did so with Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko both out injured and went on to beat the Celtics in their second game back from the All-Star break. It was the starting point for the Jazz's 12-game winning streak that solidified their playoff position.

TURNING POINT: The Jazz vaulted back into the Northwest Division lead with a 12-game winning streak in the wake of owner Larry Miller's death. They were poised to complete a successful Eastern Conference trip even after a March 11 loss to Atlanta. But the Jazz blew a seven-point lead in the final minute of regulation -- Andrei Kirilenko started the spiral with a costly charge -- and the Jazz went on to lose 140-129 in triple overtime March 14. They went on to lose the next night in Orlando to complete a 2-3 trip and won only twice more on the road the rest of the season.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 30, 2009


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