Jazz fans can take solace, if little else, knowing Sunday's coronation of Chicago as NBA champs might have been delayed, if not canceled altogether, had the referees not missed calls on two 24-second shot-clock violations - both of which went against Utah.
But don't expect Jazz officials to make a big fuss over the matter, which ultimately cost the Jazz five points.That hasn't stopped frustrated Jazz fans from already inundating talk radio and TV call-in shows, screaming for the head of lead official Dick Bavetta.
Bavetta waved off Howard Eisley's 3-point basket at 9:39 of the second quarter as a shot-clock violation when TV replays showed the ball at least 15 feet out of Eisley's hand before the :00 came up. Utah would have gone up 31-24.
And officials allowed a Ron Harper 15-foot runner from the right side over John Stockton to tie the score at 79-79 with 3:44 left when replays clearly showed the ball still in his hand after the shot clock expired.
Scott Layden, Jazz vice president for basketball operations, was asked if the team would make any appeal to the NBA regarding the errors. "Oh no. No. No," he said. "We never discuss the officials."
His father, Jazz president Frank Layden, said of the situation on a postgame broadcast: "I don't think you get anything out of being negative."
"You have to play through those things," said Stockton in classic stoic Jazz fashion. "Once that play was over, we went on and kept playing."
"You can't argue about it," added teammate Jeff Hornacek. "So you can always look back at a call here and a call there."
"It's loud and it's tough on the officials. I don't think there will be anybody on our team that will come out and overtly state that the officials are the reason we lost the game, but it's tough when those calls go against you," said Jazz forward Adam Keefe.
"When you're playing the defending champion, you're playing against Michael Jordan, that's the way it is.. . . Great players get calls. That's just the way the league works. With time you'll look back and be a little happier, maybe have a little more pride in yourself and your effort, but right now it's an awfully sour taste." Sloan was even more stoic about the officials' mistakes. It was the first question he was asked in the postgame interview session.
"We have no control over that. What are you going to do?" he said. "Those are very difficult things to swallow, but that's part of this business. You're still a loser," Sloan said.
Even if the Jazz were to pursue a protest with the NBA, receiving a favorable ruling isn't likely.