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News » Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2008-05-30

Utah Jazz Getting Inside 2008-05-30
You could argue that the Jazz' 2007-08 season was a success or a missed opportunity and probably be correct either way.

The Jazz failed to return to the Western Conference finals for the second consecutive year -- losing to the Lakers in six games -- but felt they made progress with what was the NBA's fifth-youngest roster at season's end.

Even after losing an 11-year veteran in Derek Fisher, the Jazz won its second consecutive Northwest Division title and finished 54-28, three victories better than last season even as every playoff team in the conference won at least 50 games.

They tied a franchise record by winning 19 consecutive home games and finished a league-best 37-4 at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz also undoubtedly will benefit from the experience of playing in 29 playoff games the last two seasons.

But the Jazz also have to ask whether they will ever have another season in which Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer -- selected all-NBA second and third-team, respectively -- miss only one game all season combined because of injury.

Or whether they failed to take advantage of their best opportunity to beat the Lakers for years to come. The Lakers beat the Jazz in the conference semifinals without injured center Andrew Bynum or injured forward Trevor Ariza.

In the end, the Jazz won 60 games (regular season and playoffs), just like they did the season before. They believe that there is still room to grow from within and enter the off-season with 13 of 14 players under contract.

The 14th player, guard C.J. Miles, likely will be tendered a one-year qualifying offer, so the Jazz can keep his rights as a restricted free agent. With so many players under contract, the Jazz are not expecting any sweeping off-season changes.

They own the No. 23 pick in the draft and could explore trading forward Andrei Kirilenko, although they would have to find a taker for the three years and nearly $50 million left on Kirilenko's contract.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor is typically opposed to keeping 15 players on the roster in the event the team has to take back an extra player in a two-for-one trade. The Jazz with Miles and their first-round pick would be at 15 players.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Jazz were 16-16 and out of the Western Conference's top eight after losing to Boston 104-98 at home Dec. 29. But the Jazz welcomed Kyle Korver in a trade from Philadelphia and went on to tie the franchise record by winning 19 consecutive home games. The Jazz beat Portland, San Antonio, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas and Denver as part of the streak before losing to the Lakers on March 20. That was an omen of things to come as Kobe Bryant and Co. ended the Jazz's season on their home court nearly two months later.

TURNING POINT: No team in the last 30 years has gone on to win a title with a losing road record and the Jazz were no different. They finished 17-24 on the road, losing to six of the seven teams (all except Milwaukee) that missed the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The Jazz also lost twice to Minnesota and once to the L.A. Clippers on the road. Had they won only four more road games, the Jazz would have finished with 58 victories, good for the Western Conference's top playoff seed. That would have given them home-court advantage for the series against the Lakers. The Jazz finished the season 0-5 against the Lakers at Staples Center.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2008


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