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KRAGTHORPE: Jazz put out little effort in forgettable finale
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

SAN ANTONIO - There would be no heartbreak, no frustration, no spending the summer replaying the little things that went wrong in their last game.

That's what a basic no-show will do for you.

The Jazz completed their season Wednesday night at the AT&T Center with a 109-84 loss to San Antonio in a performance that spoke far more of resignation or even anticipation than desperation, while sending the Spurs on to the NBA Finals.

"It's disappointing," said Matt Harpring. "I don't think a lot of us are ready to be done with the season."

Just some of them, apparently.

Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer spoke disgustedly of teammates either being "already on vacation . . . a long time ago" or "having vacation plans."

Well, their schedule is wide open now.

Clearly, the Jazz were not going to crash this fiesta, not with Derek Fisher arriving late after dealing with real-life issues and Williams playing with a foot injury that led Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to observe, "Obviously, Deron wasn't Deron."

Extending the series would have taken a phenomenal effort, the kind of achievement that the Jazz of John Stockton and Karl Malone produced only twice: winning an elimination game on the road, beyond the first round of the playoffs.

It's also true that crumbling against the Spurs in a game nobody expected them to win will only mildly spoil the Jazz's most meaningful postseason showing in 10 years, since the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance.

But c'mon. If they deserved a better ending, they all should have done something to make it happen.

The same guys who beat Houston in two elimination games this month delivered the worst finale in Jazz playoff history.

Was this really all they had left, all the interest they could summon in an attempt to properly finish the season?

If the Jazz had any thoughts of bringing the series back to EnergySolutions Arena, such hopes quickly faded.

If Game 4 slipped away from them agonizingly, Game 5 was a case of one powerful strike that took care of everything.

It was painful, just the same. San Antonio's 14-0 run in the first quarter was the Jazz's worst 2 1/2 -minute stretch of basketball in a long time, maybe ever.

Twice, after San Antonio baskets, the Jazz could not even advance the ball past their own free-throw line before turning it over.

The Spurs' Tony Parker drove for two layups and a floating shot, besides drilling a jumper and lobbing to Tim Duncan for a dunk.

At the other end, Williams and Boozer kept missing shots and, while he did make two substitutions, coach Jerry Sloan did not even bother with a timeout as the Spurs went ahead 30-11.

Fisher started the second half after accompanying his 11-month-old daughter to New York for more cancer treatment, but his arrival coincided only with things becoming worse. The Jazz could not do anything to keep the Spurs from piling on the points.

Afterward, Fisher talked about this season's finale as "the beginning . . . not the end" for a developing team, remembering his early days with the Los Angeles Lakers.

But right now? It feels like an end.

"There is never a happy ending if you don't win it all," Sloan said. "The only thing is, are you willing to come back and try it again?"

As the fourth quarter dragged on and on, a Jazz postseason that lasted longer than anyone figured could not end soon enough. It was a forgettable finish, one that made the good times of this spring just a little harder to remember.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

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