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Utah Jazz extra: Playoffs? Who needs the playoffs?

Published: Sunday, March 27 2011 11:56 p.m. MDT

Five reasons why Jazz fans can enjoy the end of this season:

Young gun fun

Coach Tyrone Corbin says he won't throw in the towel on this year, so don't expect Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and Derrick Favors to average 40 minutes anytime soon.

But their playing time has increased recently due to injuries, and the season's last 2-1/2 weeks could be prime time to allow them to develop even more when/if the Jazz are mathematically eliminated from postseason participation.

Favors gives fans exciting glimpses of potential greatness, but Hayward has especially played well in stretches lately. Of course the Butler product has. It is March.

Also, keep an eye out (and up) for some Jeremy Evans hopping highlights. Would at least one spectacular alley-oop from Earl Watson per game be asking too much?

Spoiler alert: Embrace the new role

More than likely, the Jazz aren't playoff-bound. They are five games out with only eight left. But they'll get plenty of chances to make an impact on the postseason seedings.

Utah still has two games left against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are trying to catch the Spurs and fend off the Mavericks. The Jazz also play four other playoff teams: San Antonio, New Orleans, Portland and Denver.

And you know how the old saying goes: If you can't join 'em, try to spoil their high playoff seeding hopes.

Somebody's gotta win these games

If Jazz fans can only stomach watching two more games this season, there are a couple of mustn't-misses this week: Monday night vs. Washington and Saturday at Sacramento.

Combined the Wizards (17-55) and Kings (20-52) only have one more victory than the Jazz (36-38).

Heck, Utah even has a chance to sweep Sacramento, having beaten the one-foot-out-of-town Maloofs' team three times. As far as we know, that isn't the reason why the franchise might leave for Anaheim. Then again, the Wizards also will sweep the Jazz if they win tonight.

How to say 'End of an era' in Russian?

Andrei Kirilenko's max contract is about to come off the books, so it's possible he only has eight Jazz games to go.

He is currently on crutches and suffering from a bruised peroneal nerve in his left knee (don't worry, nobody else knew what it was, either). But here's hoping Kirilenko can get some pep back in his step before this season ends.

Though the love hasn't always been reciprocated by some unsatisfied Utah basketball fans, the Russian/American forward claims Salt Lake City to be his second home after a 10-year stay.

If this indeed is the end of his Utah era — though it's possible he could be re-signed — it'd be nice to see AK-47 go out in style. Maybe with one of his stat-sheet-filling 5-by-5 outings. Maybe by blocking a few Kobe Bryant shots. Or, ideally, by bringing back the spiked hair for a week.

Enjoy it while it lasts

Even bad basketball is better than no basketball, which is a scenario that could come to fruition next season depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreement negotiations this summer between owners and players.

Sports pages could be filled with news from the wrong kind of court — the one with lawyers and judges, not the one with hoops action and highlights — if a lockout occurs.

If you think watching your team struggle and lose is frustrating, wait until you have to hear soundbyte after soundbyte from the likes of commissioner David Stern and Players Association boss Billy Hunter.

Worst part: A lockout may delay The Jimmer's NBA debut.

Coming Attractions

vs. Wizards, Monday, 7 p.m., FSN

One player should get Jazz fans pumped about this match-up. Rookie sensation John Wall? Nope. Try Wiz kid Othyus Jeffers.

vs. Lakers, Friday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

It's gotta be eating Phil Jackson alive how the Jazz have a one-game winning streak in Utah against the defending champs.

at Kings, Sunday, 6 p.m., FSN

This could be Utah's final journey to California's capital city. Somebody should play TAPS using cowbells as a tribute.

The Big Stat

130 — That's how many games Jazz players have missed in 2010-11 due to injuries and illnesses. Mehmet Okur has the most misses: 61. Al Jefferson is the only one with perfect attendance: 74.

Who's Hot

Jazz foes: Slumping Utah has lost five straight, seven of nine and 25 of 34 while falling out of the playoffs for fourth time in 28 years.

Who's Not

Jazz Health: Injury-plagued Utah likely to be without starters Devin Harris (hamstring) and Andrei Kirilenko (knee) again tonight.

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