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Kragthorpe: For Jazz, it looks like playoffs have no payoff

Published May 2, 2012 9:19 pm

NBA Playoffs • Utah playing scared, defeated at both ends of the floor
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

San Antonio

Any chance the Jazz could replay April, lose a few more games and miss the playoffs?

That way, everybody would be looking forward to the NBA Draft in June, instead of just dreading what's left of this first-round series with the San Antonio Spurs.

In the wake of Wednesday's 114-83 debacle at the AT&T Center, there's not much merit in even staging Games 3 and 4 at EnergySolutions Arena, is there?

Whether they're overwhelmed by the Spurs or overly satisfied with just making the playoffs, the Jazz simply are not justifying their postseason participation. Amid the embarrassment of being outscored by 46 points through two games of this series, they're mocking the efforts of an entire organization that battled just to advance to this point.

"Getting here is one thing; trying to having some success is another," said Jazz center Al Jefferson.

It's true that missing a bunch of makeable shots tends to make a team look worse than usual, but there's more than poor shooting or tough luck involved here. The Jazz stood to gain so much from this playoff experience — and I still believe they will, if mainly via negative reinforcement. But these guys are looking so scared and defeated at the moment that even a temporary turnaround to extend this series beyond Monday would be stunning.

"We're making the game hard on ourselves," said forward Paul Millsap. "We're just not playing basketball out there, period."

We all knew this was asking a lot of the Jazz, meeting the Western Conference's No. 1 seed. They were not going to win in San Antonio; that was understood. What's disturbing is their lack of competitiveness, their failure to improve from one game to the next and their inability to withstand San Antonio's spurts.

"You've got to learn your lessons from it," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.

Maybe they will, but Game 2 was supposed to serve as an opportunity for the Jazz at least to establish something in this series, once they settled down and adjusted to playoff basketball. Good logic, poor response — except by the Spurs.

The Jazz's offense was brutal and their defense was not much better. Besides missing their first seven shots of the game, the Jazz endured an 0-for-12 stretch in the second quarter, right after they seemingly had weathered the worst of it from San Antonio.

Trailing 31-26 with seven minutes remaining in the half, the Jazz caved in during the Spurs' 20-0 run. San Antonio led by 25 points at halftime, and later went up by 38. Playing their way entirely out of the draft's first round with a big April was not worth this kind of playoff experience.

"The blowout is kind of hard to deal with," said veteran forward Josh Howard. "Good thing we've got a couple more games to go."

If there truly is any value in what remains of this series, it's fairly well-hidden. The Jazz will have to do something remarkable just to make those two home games worthwhile.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt