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Jazz still can't find road glory

Despite its 37-4 home record, Utah continues its search for success away from Salt Lake.

May 15, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

The Jazz's hiccup during the regular season is providing some more aches and agony.

Then, it cost them home-court advantage in the second-round of the playoffs. Now, it could force them out of the postseason.

The Jazz went a league-best 37-4 at home while enjoying the confines of EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah dropped to 17-24 on the road, tied with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets for the worst among Western Conference playoff teams.

The other two are already ousted from the playoffs. If the Jazz doesn't figure out a road remedy, it is next after Wednesday's 111-104 loss.

"Our backs are against the wall," Deron Williams said. "We have to figure out how to win one on the road and steal one."

The Jazz has lost seven of its last nine road playoff games. Now it faces an elimination game in Salt Lake City on Friday and possibly a return to Los Angeles for Game 7 on Monday.

"We've been in that position a couple years now and it is what it is," Williams said. "We feel like we're a good team. We feel like we're a championship team and we just got to go out and prove that."

The Jazz's struggles mirror those of the rest of the NBA's conference semifinal series, where home-court advantages have proved to be just that.

Host teams improved to 19-1 on Wednesday.

"That's what you play for to start off the season," Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan said. "You want to try and get the home-court advantage. It's always been pretty big in this league."

Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko's synopsis for the home-court domination was pretty simple but rings true.

"The home teams are just really good," he said.

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Williams said that the Jazz's first-round series against the Houston Rockets was a more-physical affair.

He added that less physicality may be something that tips toward the Lakers' favor.

"I think Houston was a little more [physical], because that's their game," he said. "That's what they have to do to win. I think L.A. is a little more finesse. They have more options offensively, so it makes the game easier for them."

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San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich suggested the forming of a trade committee after learning of the Lakers' midseason trade for Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Sloan took a different approach.

"I wasn't upset," he said of his reaction to learning the Lakers had acquired Gasol for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, a retired Aaron McKie and a couple of draft picks. "There's nothing you can do about that. I have no control over that. . . . I have to worry about my team. I can't worry about what happens with those things."

He did, however, concede, "It made them a pretty good team."

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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