HOUSTON — There should be no debate about this one.
It was foul for the Jazz, no matter how many times you look at it, no matter who is doing the review.
Utah fell 113-96 Wednesday night at the Toyota Center, a real stinker in virtually every way imaginable for coach Jerry Sloan's club just one evening after it secured one of the most memorable overtime victories in franchise history.
"Coach told us to leave it on the floor (Tuesday night), and we just need somebody to go back and get it from EnergySolutions and have 'em FedEx it to New Orleans," point guard Deron Williams said with an eye toward the Jazz's third-to-last game of the season, Friday night against the Hornets. "That's where it's still at."
The debacle came on one of the worst nights possible for Utah, too, one in which Denver beat Oklahoma City, Dallas beat Memphis and Phoenix beat San Antonio — dropping the 51-28 Jazz from second place to fifth in the NBA's jam-packed Western Conference.
"It's gonna be a good finish," said power forward Carlos Boozer, who had an 18-point and 11-rebound double-double in the loss. "We'll bounce back."
The Jazz — who beat Oklahoma City 140-139 on Tuesday night in a thriller that ended with a controversial no-call of C.J. Miles' obvious foul on Kevin Durant, a decision that the NBA on Wednesday publicly acknowledged was wrong — led only briefly in the game's opening minute.
And it was all downhill from there.
"We don't have to make excuses, but it was a tough game for us, a tough turnaround," said Williams, who committed seven of the Jazz's season-worst-tying 26 turnovers. "You know, me personally, I tried to get it going. Just really didn't have the energy."
"We got (to Houston) about 4 in the morning. … I went to sleep about 5:30, and got up and tried to get it going," Boozer added. "That's the NBA, though. I'm not trying to make no excuses. They took it to us; they played (Tuesday) night, too."
The Rockets — who got 28 points each from guards Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin — had their lead into double digits by the quarter's final minute, and it soared to 14 by half's end.
There was only much more of the same in the third, and twice in the period Brooks put Houston up by as many as 26.
Three times this season, the Jazz have overcome deficits of 17 or more to win — including a February game at Portland in which they rallied from 25 down.
Such a monumental comeback, however, was not to be this time.
"We didn't have the juice to do it," Boozer said. "We didn't have it, but they did."
By the end of the third — with starting center Mehmet Okur in the locker room nursing an Achilles tendon injury, and both Williams and Boozer watching from the bench — coach Sloan was playing an improbable April 7 lineup of Ronnie Price, Sundiata Gaines, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Kosta Koufos.
That group and undrafted rookie Othyus Jeffers couldn't get Utah to within any closer than 16 in the fourth, leaving Sloan to try to make sense of it all.
"They just manhandled us all night long," he said. "We didn't seem to have the ability to be able to stay with them.
"We couldn't do anything except turn the ball over. … So it was just a long night for us, and hopefully it's one we'll forget about quickly. … I just told them, this game is over. The game (Tuesday night) is over."
Sloan's faith in the Jazz, though, is hardly finished.
"I'm not gonna cover them up with dirt," he said. "You know, this team has done pretty well."
NOTES: Jazz rookie starter Wesley Matthews shot 0 for 5 and went scoreless for the first time since Utah won Feb. 16 in Houston. … In Tuesday's game against Oklahoma City, Williams' career-high 44 points and 10 assists marked the first time any Jazz player has had 40-plus points and 10-plus assists since Rickey Green had 45 and 10 in April 1984 against Denver — and just the fourth NBA player this season with 40/10, joining Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Gilbert Arenas. … Wednesday's win was No. 900 for Houston's Rick Adelman, making him just the 11th coach in NBA history with that many. … The Jazz are now 8-4 on major national cable TV, including 3-4 on ESPN. … Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks on Wednesday broke Rafer Alston's 2006-07 single-season franchise record of 192 made 3-pointers.
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