Jim Urquhart, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A fan at EnergySolutions Arena with an "I came from Taiwan to see the Jazz" poster won a sign contest on Thursday night.
It wasn't revealed whether the back of her sign read: "And all I got was this lousy game."
It easily could have for this one.
Two nights after pulling off an exciting shocker against the Lakers in Los Angeles, the Jazz returned home and reverted back to their losing ways in front of their fans with a lackluster 98-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
"It was not the same consistency that we had the other night," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We had it in spurts, and we tried to make some runs. We just couldn't put it together for long stretches tonight."
As a result, the Jazz watched an opponent win on their home hardwood for the fifth consecutive outing.
Even worse from a historical perspective, Utah slid to 37-42 and clinched the franchise's second losing season in the past 28 years. A sub-.500 record has been even more rare in these parts than no postseason appearances, considering Utah is about to miss the playoffs for the fourth time during that same time span (since 1982-83).
"It's disappointing as not making the playoffs is disappointing from the way this team started the beginning of the season," said Corbin, whose team will be the first in NBA history to not make the playoffs after posting records of 15-5 and then 27-13.
"It's just another one of those things that we're disappointed in," Corbin added. "We've got to get better. We've got to work our way out of it. We can't feel sorry for ourselves."
When it comes to this season and the Jazz and Blazers, it was evident from Thursday's performances that one team plays in RIP City and the other plays in R.I.P. City.
Point guard Devin Harris had a stellar 26-point outing in his return from a seven-game absence due to a strained hamstring, and Paul Millsap added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
But while ensuring their first losing season since the 26-56 2004-05 campaign, the Jazz didn't get a whole lot from many other key players.
Nobody's stomach churns over the season's upheaval — a year marred by the unexpected departures of Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams and a slew of injuries — as much as the struggling C.J. Miles.
After this game — in which he missed 8 of 11 shots and the Jazz only shot 41.9 percent from the field — Miles struggled to find words to capture the bitterness of this losing season.
That the Jazz were coming off of that exciting 86-85 win in L.A. made this latest loss all the worse.
"I don't know. It's as disappointing as you can get," Miles said. "I don't know a word to put it that I can say on camera. It's bad, put it like that."
Bad aptly describes how the Jazz started this one, too. Utah fell behind 27-18 and trailed by as many as 15 points. The home team bounced back within striking distance a few times but never actually managed to grab a lead against the West's No. 6 team.
Five Blazers scored in double figures, led by Gerald Wallace's energetic 29-point outing. Ex-Jazzman Wesley Matthews added 18 points with seven rebounds while helping his team win in Utah for the second time this season — something the 46-33 Blazers hadn't done since 2000-01.
"We've struggled at times. We've had success at times. We just haven't been able to put it together as a group of guys for an extended period of time to get a good run," Corbin said. "We'll all have to do a self-check to see where we are, what we're doing, how we can get better as an individual and how we can get better as a group just by doing the right things on the floor."
GAME NOTES: Andrei Kirilenko has upped his activity level, but the earliest he will return from his knee injury (bruised nerve) is Wednesday's season-finale. Raja Bell (foot) and Ronnie Price (leg) also sat out again. ... They won't travel with Utah on its final road trip to San Antonio and New Orleans this weekend, limiting the Jazz to 10 healthy players because of season-ending injuries to Kyrylo Fesenko (broken thumb) and Mehmet Okur (back). ... Center Al Jefferson notched his 36th double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
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