Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce (34) shoots as Utah Jazz's DeMarre Carroll (3) defends in overtime during an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, in Salt Lake City. Celtics defeated the Jazz 110-107. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Kragthorpe: Jazz shouldn’t have needed help from Lakers’ opponents
NBA » Jazz may lament missed opportunities in home losses.
First Published Apr 15 2013 08:44 am • Last Updated Apr 19 2013 04:58 pm

Playing without the injured Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to beat San Antonio. So the natural reaction is to guess that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was messing around again, resting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for the playoffs.

Wrong. Duncan played well in 34 minutes, while Parker played poorly in 28 minutes of the Spurs’ 91-86 loss Sunday night in Los Angeles. Popovich and the Spurs gave it their best shot — whether as a favor to Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey (a former San Antonio employee), as an effort to earn a No. 1 seed or for the sake of integrity — but the Lakers just performed better.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

When the Lakers’ Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks are combining for five 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter of a close game, there could be only one conclusion: The Jazz are cursed, right?

In reality, this simply is their own fault.

You can blame Kobe, an NBA conspiracy, the Lakers’ opponents or just plain bad luck for everything that’s transpired in April in damaging the Jazz’s playoff chances. Ultimately, this problem is their own creation.

So the Jazz find themselves needing to win tonight at Minnesota and Wednesday at Memphis, plus have Houston beat the Lakers in Los Angeles, to earn the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. Just to add to the unlikelihood of it all, Houston may be locked into the No. 6 seed by tip-off Wednesday and have little incentive, other than coach Kevin McHale’s personal rivalry with the Lakers.

In any case, the Jazz — and those of us wondering if coach Tyrone Corbin and players such as Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward would have redeemed themselves with another playoff opportunity — will lament all of their missed opportunities. They lost games they should have won at Milwaukee, Cleveland and Chicago in early March. They also let tired, beaten-down teams like Chicago, Boston and New York come into EnergySolutions Arena and win at the end of long trips.

It’s true that the Jazz (42-38) would be in the playoffs right now if not for the Lakers’ recent surge, with a series of vintage performances from Bryant and a bunch of narrow escapes. Even before Sunday’s outcome, the crusher came Friday when Golden State could not finish off the Lakers after Kobe’s injury late in the game. Carl Landry missed an open shot in the last few seconds and Stephen Curry’s near-miracle attempt from deep in the backcourt bounced off the rim.

The Jazz would have welcomed any help lately, while the Lakers have won seven of eight games. But it really should take at least 45 wins to make the playoffs in the deep, competitive West, and the Jazz won’t get there. Having played their way into a position of needing help, they can only give credit to the Lakers, who responded admirably Sunday. Steve Blake scored 23 points; Parker went 1-for-10 and was benched in the fourth quarter for "playing awful," according to Popovich.

Dwight Howard delivered 26 points and 17 rebounds and the Lakers held San Antonio to 37-percent shooting. They deserved to win Sunday, and they will have earned their playoff spot.

story continues below
story continues below

That will mean a first-round series against Oklahoma City — a tough draw, obviously. But to those who wonder about the merits of such an exercise for the Jazz, I point to Corbin, Jefferson and Hayward. Wouldn’t you want to see how these guys performed, a year later? While being swept by the Spurs last spring, Corbin was overmatched by Popovich, Jefferson was overwhelmed by San Antonio’s defense and Hayward shot 18 percent from the field.

How would they have responded? We’re unlikely to find out. That’s the Jazz’s fault, and nobody else’s.


Twitter: @tribkurt

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.