Utah Jazz lose, help Nets snap 6-game slide
No-shows again, Jazz fall to lowly Nets
NEWARK, N.J. — Celebrities Kim Kardashian, Jay-Z, Ray Rice and a variety of well-known Russian sports stars, including tycoon/Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, figure-skating gold-medalist Viktor Petrenko and hockey great Alex Ovechkin, attended the Utah-New Jersey game Wednesday night.
The Nets and a total of 13,251 fans were there, too.
And the Jazz?
Consider them a no-show.
Well, at least the Utah team that won 27 games in the first half of the season failed to appear in the 103-95 lackluster loss to the 11-31 hosts at the Prudential Center.
The squad that had a matinee meltdown on Monday against one of the other worst teams in the NBA, the 12-win Washington Wizards, came out for a pitiful encore performance.
"It looks like a lack of effort. We've really struggled," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said after his team's second-straight subpar showing. "Their energy just doesn't look very good to me. The last couple of games it appeared we didn't have a great deal of enthusiasm to play."
All of the makeup on the most famous Kardashian's face couldn't cover up the Jazz's blemishes from this botched showing.
"Just another bad loss," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "I don't know what to say."
To focus on the positive, the Jazz (27-15) did get a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists from Williams, whose availability for the game was in question after the stomach flu forced him out of the morning shootaround.
Jefferson contributed a game-high 21 points with eight rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko added 17 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots on Russian Culture Night.
Utah actually took an early lead, going ahead 12-4, and the Comeback Crew almost staged another victorious rally by pulling within a bucket in the final two minutes.
And there was the time, well, that about sums up the good parts.
As happened most of the night, New Jersey dominated down the stretch as it had for most of the rest of the game to spoil Utah's attempt at another double-digit comeback win.
"You've got to have a perfect finish almost every time," Sloan said, "and we didn't have that."
Far from it.
They had a pretty imperfect middle, too.
After a three-point play by Jefferson made it 93-91 for New Jersey, which led by as many as 16 points, the Jazz had as many missed field goals as they did points (four apiece). Williams also had a turnover, and both he and Paul Millsap missed inside buckets.
The Nets, meanwhile, scored 10 points in the final 1:40, and finished off the Jazz by playing with passion and poise — perhaps trying to impress their Russian owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, who made a rare appearance.
Seven Nets ended up scoring in double figures, led by Brook Lopez's 20 points. Current Kardashian flame/ex-Jazz forward Kris Humphries (12) and ex-Lakers Sasha Vujacic (15 points) and Jordan Farmar (11 points) gave New Jersey a nice spark off the bench.
"Congratulate New Jersey," Kirilenko said. "They played a great game."
Perhaps tired of answering questions about rumors linking him with the Nets because of his Russian compatriot, Kirilenko was unusually edgy when asked if he thought New Jersey played better because Prokhorov announced the team would no longer pursue Carmelo Anthony in a trade.
"To be honest, I don't really care," Kirilenko said. "It's totally his idea, his team, his job. My idea and my job is to play for the Utah Jazz. I don't have any clue what they're going to do."
The Jazz seem clueless as to what they're going to do to get back to winning, too — not to mention how they looked on the court.
"I can't say. I don't know what's going on," a very quiet and dejected Jefferson said. "Honestly, I just don't know. I don't know."
Utah only shot 41.6 percent, was outrebounded by double digits (44-31) and dished out fewer assists than its second inferior foe in a row (25-20).
The Jazz opened with a 19-point quarter and scored just 16 in the decisive third quarter after going into the locker room tied at 48.
"It's always surprising," Sloan said. "I think we're better than what we've played."
"I'm not surprised," Jefferson said. "I'm devastated."
With three more road games coming, including a tough one in Boston on Friday, could it be time for an oft-discussed lineup change?
He's the team captain, but Williams isn't about to try to wear the coach's hat, too. Asked if he'll give lineup suggestions, the All-Star point guard gave a quick comment: "Just leave it up to him."
Him, meaning Sloan, who hasn't decided what approach to take after back-to-back blunders.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll see."
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