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Utah Jazz get going too late in road loss to Pacers

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 11:35 p.m. MST

Indiana's David West drives to the basket against Jazz forward Paul Millsap in the Pacers' victory on Tuesday night. Millsap scored a team-high 18 points in the defeat.

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The Utah Jazz didn't win Tuesday night, falling 104-99 to the Indiana Pacers for their second road loss in as many nights.

But they showed a few things in this one at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that they didn't in Monday's embarrassing 99-88 setback to the no-name Knicks.

Fire. Life. Desire.

At least in the second half, when they turned a 21-point deficit into a brief three-point lead.

"We just started getting into the game, if you will," Jazz guard Raja Bell said. "It felt like we were kind of sleepwalking through the first half and the first segment of the third quarter. Once we got moving, we played pretty well."

With 8:04 remaining in the third, the Jazz found themselves trailing by 21 points, 71-50, after a Danny Granger basket.

"We didn't like our effort until the third quarter," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "If we would have done what we did three to four minutes into that third quarter for the rest of the game, then we could play with anybody. On the road, you can't afford to dig a hole like we did."

Up to that point, there were approximately two positives for this 13-11 team that has now lost four of five games.

For one, Gordon Hayward, who won a state title with nearby Brownsburg High School on this same court in 2008, was playing well for the hometown crowd, which included quite a few in No. 20 Jazz jerseys.

The second was a stretch, but at least Utah was getting thumped by players whose names are recognizable — unlike in New York (flashback: Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak).

But just like that, things changed — almost with the flick of Bell's wrist on a 3-pointer.

Utah got its shovels out and start digging its way out of the hole, pulling within seven by the end of the third and taking momentum into the fourth.

"We just started playing," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said. "In the first half, we didn't have very good energy. We just weren't in sync in the first half, and against a good team like the Pacers you can't do that."

Didn't work so well against a bad Knicks team, either.

The Jazz credited their defensive effort for helping them eventually take the lead — completing a 22-point turnaround — on two Josh Howard free throws with just under eight minutes remaining.

Indiana and Utah traded leads for a while. But the Pacers took control down the stretch when a Paul George 3-pointer and a Roy Hibbert putback contrasted against an Al Jefferson travel, five Big Al missed shots in the final 2:42 and a costly 24-second shot-clock violation as Millsap stumbled.

"Shots I make all the time," said the 6-foot-10 Jefferson, matched against 7-2 Hibbert. "But they just didn't fall for me."

Jefferson thought the Jazz's 17 turnovers, leading to 15 Pacers' points, was a game-changing stat. Indiana only turned the ball over eight times.

"We're not good enough to turn off and on like that," Jefferson added. "I think the effort was there more tonight than last night. We made too many mistakes as far as turning over the ball."

Granger hit a jumper with 25.7 seconds remaining to put the Pacers up by five. Jazz point guard Devin Harris responded quickly, trimming the lead to three.

Then Granger, who finished with 16 points, drained clutch free throws.

That left the Jazz grasping to take some momentum back to Utah, where they have two days off before an important and rare home game against the NBA's best team, Oklahoma City.

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