Now the good news for the Jazz: Historically, they're better off when they don't have the homecourt advantage in a playoff series.
In their history, the Jazz have played 10 playoff series, of which they've won three and lost seven. Five of those series have been with a homecourt edge, five without. Of the five with the advantage, the Jazz are 1-4. Of the five with the disadvantage, they're 2-3.The only time the Jazz won a playoff series with a Salt Palace extra game came in 1983-84, when the Jazz, playing in the playoffs for the first time ever, prevailed over Denver in five games. They used the final game win in Salt Lake as a launching pad into the second round, where they also had a homecourt advantage over Phoenix.
But the Jazz lost that series to the Suns, 4-2, and have yet to win a series with a homecourt advantage since. Included is last year's series against Phoenix, when the Suns played three times in the Salt Palace, and won twice.
WHAT, THEM WORRY: The above appears not to be lost on the Suns. No sooner did the Jazz lose to Golden State Sunday - bequeathing the homecourt advantage in the series to the Suns - than Phoenix Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said, "Last year, Utah had the homecourt edge, emphasized it, and we beat them. Then the Lakers had the homecourt edge, emphasized it, and we beat them too.
"It wasn't until we got to Portland that they used their homecourt advantage, and that went seven games."
ADD BAD NEWS: Not only did the Jazz give away the Midwest title and a favorable start in the playoffs with Sunday's loss at Golden State, the
Jazz's Jeff Malone failed to win the NBA season free throw title by one free throw.
Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers won the title with a .918 season-long percentage, making 551 of 600 free throws. Malone finished at .917 with 231 makes in 252 tries.
If he'd made just one more free throw during the season,Malone's percentage would have climbed to .920, and the title would have been his.
He was perfect in the Golden State game, going two-for-two from the line. But it wasn't enough. He needed at least eight shots to catch Miller. "I didn't get to the line as much as I would have liked," said Malone. "But, then, there wasn't a whole lot that went well for us at all."
MINUTEMEN: According to final NBA regular season statistics, the Jazz's Karl Malone and John Stockton were among just four players who played
in all 82 games and logged more than 3,100 minutes.
Golden State's Chris Mullin led the league in minutes-played with 3,315, an average of 40.4 minutes per game. Then came Karl Malone at 3,302 minutes (40.3), Golden State's Tim Hardaway at 3,215 minutes (39.2) and Stockton at 3,103 minutes (37.8).
Only 13 players exceeded 3,000 minutes. Malone wound up playing 300 more minutes than Michael Jordan, while Stockton played almost 300
more minutes than Magic Johnson.
Said Malone, "Sometimes you get tired, but that's the game. You're never going to here me complain about playing too many minutes. You hear guys complaining about not getting enough minutes, and you don't ever want to be in that situation."
Said Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan, "If you look at our team and where we've come, those are the two guys (Malone and Stockton) who got us here. They have to be on the court. I knew that in the exhibition season (when the Jazz went 1-7) last fall, which is why they didn't play much then. I knew when we'd need them."
BEATING THE WAIT: BYU offensive lineman Neal Fort was the first local college player to be drafted by the NFL, when he went in the sixth round Monday to the Los Angeles Rams. From pre-draft camps and conversations with scouts, Fort knew he was projected to go in the middle rounds, so he had a draft game plan.
On Sunday night, after the early rounds were completed, he stayed up as late as possible in his apartment in Provo. "I watched the original Godfather," he said, "that's a long movie, and you've got to stay with it. I didn't go to bed until around 2:30 in the morning. I wanted to sleep in Monday until at least 10 a.m. The last thing I wanted was to be awake early, worrying."
The strategy worked. When the Rams called at 9 a.m., Fort was still in dreamland.
"My roommates woke me up," he said. "They said the Rams were on the phone. It was great. I didn't have to wait around or anything. I'd heard it can be a long day if you're waiting for the phone to ring."