LOS ANGELES — Earlier in the series against the Lakers, Carlos Boozer was called both a "beast" and a "monster."
He received no such compliments after Monday's 107-96 loss in what could be his last game in a Utah uniform.
That's because in this one, Boozer looked a lot more like the inconsistent player who struggled to find his All-Star caliber game for much of two months following the power forward's return from knee surgery in mid-February.
After four games of making his powerful presence felt on the court against the Lakers, Boozer vanished into being an invisible entity in Utah's season-ending blowout loss to L.A.
He finished with just 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting and nine rebounds in easily his worst outing of the postseason.
"They did a really good job defensively," said Boozer, pointing out that he only had eight attempts. "I felt like I could've had more of an impact with the game if I would have had more opportunity, but sometimes that's how the game flows."
Though he chipped in a bit more in the third quarter, Boozer was missing in action when the Lakers all but seized control of this elimination contest.
That was somewhat of a surprise considering how Boozer brought series averages of 23.3 points and 14.3 rebounds — highlighted by a 23-point, 22-board Game 3 — into Monday's do-or-die game.
To that point, Deron Williams, who'd previously said his Team USA teammate had played like "a beast," even called Boozer the most "consistent" Jazz player in these playoffs at shootaround Monday morning.
It turned out to be a didn't-and-died game, though, after Boozer scored just four points on 1-for-5 shooting while grabbing just three rebounds in the pivotal first half when L.A. seized a 56-43 lead.
Boozer led Utah in scoring in the third quarter with six points and hauled in six rebounds, but at the same time his guy went berserk on the other end. Pau Gasol, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, exploded for most of his production (nine points and six boards) in the game-clinching third when L.A.'s lead ballooned to 22.
Then, interestingly, Boozer sat and Utah began chipping away at the lead.
With Boozer on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, the Jazz rallied to within six points late in the fourth quarter with a group that included his mid-season replacement, Paul Millsap.
Let the offseason power forward debate begin?
Not so fast, Boozer said. He hasn't decided what course he's taking yet.
"I don't know that, I don't know that at all," he said. "I've got a lot of talking with the team to do, talking with my agent, with my family and we'll figure everything out this summer."
Still, Boozer's rough season and perhaps Jazz-finale will likely fuel the fire of speculation by a frustrated fanbase, which isn't sure if he wants to stay for a sixth year in Utah or if he'll still opt out of his contract in search of greener pastures.
He insists he would love to remain in the Beehive State, though.
"Absolutely, love to be in a Jazz uniform," he said. "(I) feel like one of those cornerstone people that brought this team back to prominence and back to the playoffs. I'd love to continue to move forward and have a chance to win a championship in the future."54 comments on this story
But in December, while he was out for 44 games with his left knee injury, Boozer told an ESPN reporter that he intended on opting out, which he said he regretted saying on Monday. His comments that he'd be getting a raise regardless along with his questionable long-term future commitment to Utah and a three-month injury absence left a sour taste in the mouths of many Jazz fans.
Playing like a shadow of his former self in the final game of the season might not win him too much support.