Utah Jazz: Carlos Boozer missing in action in possible last Jazz game
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Nobody knows where Carlos Boozer will end up after he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
That's not the only unsettled — and unsettling — question regarding the Utah Jazz power forward.
Many had to wonder where he was Monday for most of Game 4, too.
Miami? Chicago? New Jersey? Detroit?
Boozer — especially his offensive game the Jazz rely on — was missing in action for much of the night during Utah's season-ending 111-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at EnergySolutions Arena.
"I thought I was terrible," Boozer admitted.
Struggling again to cope with the Los Angeles Lakers' length, Boozer didn't seem to save his best for what could have been his last performance in a Jazz uniform. Though he grabbed 14 rebounds, Boozer's shot was way off again... He missed seven of 11 field goals and finished with only 10 points.
His night began with a turnover and ended with him fouling out with 3:31 remaining after he pushed Pau Gasol in the back.
Boozer said the thought that this might be his Jazz finale didn't cross his mind, even after sitting out the final few minutes on the bench.
"I wasn't thinking about that. I was disappointed in our effort. I didn't play my best game," Boozer said. "Our team didn't play our best game of the series. I'm just disappointed that we lost in that fashion. I expected us to win tonight and take it back to L.A."
Amplifying Boozer's woes was the fact that one of the guys he guarded outscored him by 23 points. Gasol punished Boozer and other Jazz defenders inside and out, scoring a game-high 33 points with 14 rebounds.
"We give them all the credit," Boozer said. "They kicked our butt."
Moments after falling in a 4-0 sweep, Boozer didn't feel like talking about his future. He will be an unrestricted free agent come July.
"We'll figure it out later, man. It's too soon for all that talk, guys," Boozer said. "Right now we're disappointed that we lost and our season is over. All the free agent talk we can talk about in July."
Asked about the likelihood of him returning to Utah, Boozer simply said, "I hope it's good."
Boozer started off this must-win game by hitting a jumper, but his game toppled off Mount Olympus from there.
He finished the first quarter with all of two points.
Boozer's cold spell continued in the second quarter when he missed all four field-goal attempts. Unlike Saturday night, he did sink both free throws to put up another two-spot.
Boozer, a former two-time All-Star, finished the first half with all of four points, the same amount as Laker backup guard Shannon Brown. In that rough start, Boozer had more turnovers (three) than field goals (one).
Boozer's game came back to him a bit in the third quarter after the Lakers had charged ahead by as many as 22 points.
After spinning free only to miss an open left-handed layup, Boozer had six rare inside points. His scoring spurt included a putback, a sweet drive in which he slipped between Lamar Odom and Gasol and layup off of a pick-and-roll.
That Boozer basket helped the surging Jazz trim the Lakers' large lead to 70-65 with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
"We made a run. We're not going to give up," Boozer said of how the Jazz outscored the Lakers by 12 to begin the second half to that point. "I thought we did a good job of trying to get back into it."
But Kobe Bryant scored a couple of baskets, and then Boozer picked up his fourth foul after swiping away Gasol.
"Next thing you know, it was like they were shooting free throws and we weren't," Boozer said, who'd referred to foul-shooting disparity previously in the series. "Next thing you know, it was a big lead for them and we were playing from behind again."
This was the second straight sub-par home game for Boozer against the Lakers. He averaged only 12 points on 11-for-27 shooting in the Jazz's last two losses at ESA.
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