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Kragthorpe: Jazz's offensive struggles costly in loss to Celtics

Published February 25, 2013 11:41 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Randy Foye's tying attempt was short, wide and hopeless.

The Jazz's final, desperate sequence of Monday night's 110-107 overtime loss to Boston at EnergySolutions Arena perfectly captured the futility of a game they'll wish they could have back.

Everything about Jazz management's choice to keep the team intact after last week's NBA trade deadline and try to win now made a lot of sense - except for the little detail of actually having to go out and win those games.

They've committed themselves to making the playoffs and then sorting out all kinds of personnel issues this summer, the problem being that they actually have to qualify in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers are sneaking up on them, and now the Jazz have wasted another of these home games that they absolutely have to win.

The Jazz simply could not come through against Boston, in a game filled with Tyrone Corbin's curious coaching decisions and the stark reality that they're still trying to do this without a genuine point guard.

If the Jazz have cleverly worked around Mo Williams' thumb injury for two months, they sure missed him Monday — more than the Celtics missed Rajon Rondo.

Having promised to re-evaluate the lineup, Corbin delivered the landmark decision of starting Earl Watson at point guard instead of Jamaal Tinsley, an experiment that failed miserably. His subsequent move was playing Alec Burks at that position for the final 16 minutes of regulation, plus overtime. That strategy barely succeeded in getting the game into OT, only to have Boston's Paul Pierce take over.

This game was decided basically by one factor: Pierce created his own shots, as no Jazzman could ever hope to do. The Celtics' offense may have been every bit as disorganized as the Jazz's appeared, but Pierce made it work.

"We fought and hung in there and had some chances," Corbin said, "but we just didn't get the big shots down the stretch."

No, they sure didn't make them. Sometimes, they barely even managed to take them.

Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward's night will be remembered for his smooth outside shooting, his 26 points and his inability to save a dying offense with the 24-second clock expiring. Late in regulation, Hayward could not beat the shot clock, resulting in a violation, and then he air-balled a 3-point try that he launched just in time.

The Jazz somehow made it into overtime when Alec Burks converted a twisting layup and Pierce's shot at the buzzer went in and out.

But after the Jazz took a brief lead in the extra period, Paul Millsap shot an airball from the baseline and Hayward missed a 3-pointer. Meanwhile, Pierce scored seven points in three possessions, and the Celtics secured a victory that took a lot of toughness and determination.

The Jazz also possess those qualities, but they definitely lacked efficiency.

As the fourth quarter unfolded, Corbin seemed to be pretending that Al Jefferson had been traded last week. The Jazz's unusual lineup included Burks, Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Millsap and Derrick Favors. But then Favors recorded his fifth foul with 5:04 remaining and Jefferson entered, creating the potential of his rescuing a win over his old team for the first time in a combined six seasons with Minnesota and Utah.

Jefferson hit a tying shot in regulation and stole the ball from Kevin Garnett, but he also missed a go-ahead attempt. So there would be no story that wrote itself, no ending that satisfied the Jazz.

Someday, with some team, Jefferson just might beat the Celtics. But not Monday, in another loss the Jazz will regret.


Twitter: @tribkurt






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