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Utah Jazz: 'Proud' team suffers stinging loss to end up-and-down season

Published: Wednesday, April 17 2013 11:05 p.m. MDT

Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley (11) drives under Utah Jazz's Mo Williams (5) and Paul Millsap, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Danny Johnston, Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wednesday's game was a microcosm of the 2012-13 season for the Utah Jazz.

They played hard, but had hardships that nullified effort.

They had some success, but stumbled on the road.

And, ultimately, they came up short of their goal.

As a result of an underwhelming showing and an 86-70 blowout to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum, the Jazz will miss out on the playoffs for only the fifth time in 30 years.

"It hurts," Jazz point guard Mo Williams said.

"It's kind of depressing," Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward added.

It's also over in mid-April — about the time Jazz seasons used to just be getting fun.

"It's disappointing any time you don't make the playoffs. It's a goal we make at the beginning of the year," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It's always disappointing when you don't go. We had an opportunity to go, and we just didn't get it done tonight."

A season that began with so much promise in Jazzland at training camp in October — after last year's surprising playoff run and touted improvements in previous weak spots — ended with a return ticket to Lottery Land.

But with soft, depressed voices and visible disappointment in their demeanor, the Jazz grasped to put a warm-fuzzy feel on the season's bitterly abrupt halt.

Corbin used the word "proud" four different times during his postgame interview while talking about his team, which won nine of 11 games before the Memphis meltdown to keep postseason hopes alive until the enticing last night.

"There were opportunities for us to go the other way. The guys just hung in there," Corbin said. "We didn't have our best game tonight and that's still disappointing, but this group of guys I'm really proud to have worked with."

It was also a group of guys that had a tight bond even in difficulties and that tried to make the most of the present despite having nine free-agents-to-be — possibly 10 — with unsettled futures.

"We are disappointed, of course, because we lost the game and didn't get a chance to make the postseason," Jazz center Al Jefferson said.

"But overall (for) the whole season, I just think everybody should keep their heads up because we should be proud of ourselves. There were many times this season we had the chance to tuck it in and give up, but we kept fighting and fighting to put ourselves in the position to get into the playoffs."

Instead of preparing for the playoffs, however, the organization's schedule has been simplified.

Locker cleanout is today at EnergySolutions Arena.

The NBA draft is June 27.

With this season's regression and the uncertainty of the team's roster, who knows when the next playoff appearance will be for the Jazz?

This could have been the final Utah game for four of five Jazz starters: seven-year Jazzman Paul Millsap, Big Al, Williams and Randy Foye.

That makes Wednesday's tumble all the tougher to take. The Jazz needed a win to put extra pressure on the Lakers, who beat the Rockets after knowing they'd earned a playoff berth thanks to Utah's loss.

Add one more what could've, should've, would've, didn't to the unfulfilling season.

"It is a tough time, especially to end like this," Millsap said. "We just couldn't get it for whatever reason. Some of the things that have been haunting us all season came back to bite us tonight. It is tough."

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