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Jazz's playoff chase meets end

Published April 17, 2006 12:53 am

Mavericks 111, Jazz 95
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

DALLAS - Emotionally and physically - and now mathematically, too - the Jazz aren't a playoff team. Psychologically? That's another matter.

"We believe we're a playoff team. We should be there," Carlos Boozer insisted Sunday after a 111-95 loss to the Mavericks formally ended scoreboard-watching season and awarded the final playoff berth to the Sacramento Kings. "If we had this lineup as late as [the beginning of] March, we'd have been OK. We'd be there."

Instead, the Jazz are left to ponder their medical misfortune, their rookie growing pains and ultimately, their third consecutive early vacation. Their fate was all but certain for the past few weeks, but a five-game winning streak cruelly sharpened the pain of their failure.

"It's so bad. It's not what we wanted," said Andrei Kirilenko, his defensive skills rendered powerless by an aggressive Mavericks offense and a wrenched back muscle. "We fought back and fought back. But it's too late to have chance now."

Actually, their coach believes the Jazz never had a chance Sunday. The Mavericks' style is to aggressively

attack the basket, but Jerry Sloan, the disappointment over a season gone sour still fresh, asserted they found accomplices in the trio wearing whistles.

The Mavericks shot 55 free throws to Utah's 37, and the disparity was at its worst in the first half, when Dallas established a double-digit lead it protected to the finish.

"We went in there and I thought we got fouled, but we couldn't get to the free-throw line. Then we go to the other end, and [the referees] put them on the free-throw line," Sloan uncharacteristically grumbled of Dallas' advantage, which included 21 second-quarter free throws to the Jazz's four. "You put a young team out there and they don't get a call in that situation, it's very difficult."

The Mavs, on the other hand, collected their 60th win, a trophy that only gets them a fourth seed in the upcoming tournament. That identity seemed to help Dallas when the whistles blew, the coach suggested.

"It shouldn't make any difference who you are, that's the thing that upsets me," Sloan said. "I know they're a great team, but . . . unbelievable."

Easier to believe was the Jazz's inability to clamp down on the Mavericks' high-tempo game. After all, the Jazz are now 1-9 here over the past five years, and a 16-point loss is far from their worst showing. And the truth is, one team played like a playoff team, and one didn't. It's not as though the game came down to a final couple of buckets.

This time, Erick Dampier, of all people, seemed most intent on sending the Jazz on their summer vacations, bulling his way to 12 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive end. "He played with much energy, pushing whatever is in his way," said Jazz forward Mehmet Okur.

Yeah, Sloan noticed some pushing, too. He asked Jarron Collins and even Greg Ostertag to try to contain him, but decided Dampier's white jersey meant more than his style of play. "We had a couple of guys laying on the floor, but if you can't hold your position and get a foul out of it, what do you expect?" he complained.

Carlos Boozer offered a less emotional version. "They're aggressive, and we had to make a decision to let them make a shot or put them on the line," Boozer said. "I'd rather make them earn them than give up layups."

Utah got 21 points and 11 rebounds from Boozer, 16 points from Okur and 16 points and nine assists from Deron Williams.

Boozer seemed most disappointed of all, clearly believing his hamstring injury is largely to blame for having nothing left to play for. "We wouldn't be fighting for the eighth spot if we had been together earlier, we'd be fighting for home-court [advantage] or something," he said. "We had a chance to play really well, so this is pretty tough."

pmiller@sltrib.com

Mavericks 111, Jazz 95

FG FT Reb

UTAH Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts

Boozer 34:24 9-15 3-3 4-11 1 3 21

Harpring 22:57 1-5 5-8 0-3 2 5 7

Okur 32:42 5-12 7-8 2-5 1 4 17

Williams 35:43 7-11 0-0 0-1 9 2 16

Kirilenko 24:36 2-4 5-8 2-3 3 3 9

Collins 16:29 3-4 0-0 3-3 0 3 6

Brown 30:29 3-9 0-0 2-3 2 5 7

McLeod 12:17 1-3 2-2 0-0 2 1 4

Ostertag 9:09 0-0 1-2 0-2 0 2 1

Humphries 17:38 1-1 1-4 0-2 0 5 3

Miles 3:37 1-1 2-2 0-0 0 0 4

Totals 240:01 33-65 26-37 13-33 20 33 95

Percentages: FG .508, FT .703. Three-Point Goals: 3-9, .333 (Williams 2-2, Brown 1-4, Okur 0-1, Harpring 0-2). Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 20 (25 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Kirilenko 2, McLeod). Turnovers: 20 (Kirilenko 5, Okur 4, McLeod 3, Boozer 2, Collins 2, Brown, Humphries, Miles, Ostertag). Steals: 7 (McLeod 3, Williams 2, Brown, Kirilenko). Technical Fouls: Defensive Three Second, 6:08 second; Coach Sloan, 10:25 fourth; Humphries, 10:25 fourth.

FG FT Reb

DALLAS Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts

Howard 31:31 7-12 3-4 1-5 2 4 18

Nowitzki 36:14 4-13 14-14 1-7 4 1 22

Diop 24:01 1-1 3-6 4-5 2 5 5

Terry 36:42 3-12 7-8 0-2 6 3 16

Griffin 28:15 1-4 4-4 1-3 1 4 6

Dampier 21:28 4-6 5-6 7-12 0 5 13

Stackhouse 25:29 6-13 6-7 1-1 1 1 20

Powell 16:06 1-1 3-4 1-4 0 1 5

Armstrong 11:18 2-3 0-0 1-1 2 1 5

Daniels 5:39 0-2 1-2 1-1 1 0 1

Mbenga 2:31 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Marshall 0:46 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 240:00 29-68 46-55 18-41 19 26 111

Percentages: FG .426, FT .836. Three-Point Goals: 7-13, .538 (Terry 3-6, Stackhouse 2-3, Armstrong 1-1, Howard 1-1, Nowitzki 0-2). Team Rebounds: 8. Team Turnovers: 15 (20 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Dampier, Diop). Turnovers: 14 (Terry 4, Armstrong 2, Dampier 2, Nowitzki 2, Diop, Howard, Powell, Stackhouse). Steals: 12 (Griffin 3, Howard 3, Diop 2, Terry 2, Powell, Stackhouse). Technical Fouls: Nowitzki, 10:25 fourth.

Utah 24 24 24 23 -95

Dallas 33 23 36 19 -111

A - 19,961 (19,200). T - 2:22. Officials: Ken Mauer, Tim Donaghy, Ed Malloy.

IN SHORT - The Jazz's long-shot playoff hopes were finally buried under a blizzard of Dallas free throws.

KEY STAT - The Mavs had a 21-4 advantage in free-throw attempts in the second quarter.

KEY MOMENT - Andrei Kirilenko twisted his body awkwardly while trying to rebound in the third quarter, and left the game with a sore back.