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Analysis: Jazz return to playoffs by doing it their way

No one figured this promising-but-flawed team could make the playoffs — but they did.



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All in

At a glance

Blazers at Jazz

At EnergySolutions Arena

Tipoff » Thursday, 6 p.m.

TV » ROOT Sports

Radio » 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM

Records » Blazers 28-37, Jazz 35-30

Last meeting » Jazz, 112-91 (April 18)

About the Blazers » Portland has lost six consecutive games and eight of nine. … Ex-Utah guard Wesley Matthews is averaging 13.7 points and shooting 41.6 percent from the field in 65 games (52 starts). … The Blazers were blown out 124-89 by San Antonio on Monday.

About the Jazz » Utah’s 3-0 against Portland this season. … The Jazz have won four consecutive games heading into their regular-season finale against the Blazers. … Utah entered Wednesday ranked third in the NBA in rebounding (44.1) and fourth in scoring (99.7).

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The Jazz bought in. They never fractured. They dispensed with egos and the lazy allure of guaranteed contracts and simply went to work. Jefferson and Millsap — the heart and soul of Jazzland — talked about players learning and accepting their roles. The team was proud to play for Corbin. And fans burned out or turned off by Carlos Boozer and Williams found 15 gritty players with more than a little Stockton and Malone in their blood.

"We made it and we made it together. No one person did it. It was all of us," Jefferson said. "From the coaching staff to the trainers … to the players to the ball boys. Everybody had a part of this and everybody helped get us to this point. As long as we stick together as a team and as a family, the sky’s the limit."

And the team that was supposed to fail has brought playoff basketball back to Salt Lake City, barely missing a beat.

bsmith@sltrib.com


Battle tested

A Jazz team featuring four players 22 or younger has been involved in seven overtime games during a lockout-shortened 66-game season. According to the NBA, Utah’s only the third team in league history to play a single-, double-, triple- and quadruple-overtime contest in one year.



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