PHOENIX The Jazz had their chances.
Taking advantage of them, however, was another matter altogether as Utah fell 103-98 at Phoenix in a late-starting ESPN-televised game Wednesday night at sold-out U.S. Airways Arena.
And the penalty for a falling apart down the stretch was a hefty one, as the 13-10 Jazz lost for the fourth consecutive time on the road and for the fifth straight time overall matching a five-game losing streak they endured last April, and putting them in jeopardy of losing six in a row for the first time since they dropped nine straight back in March of 2005.
"There's no need to panic," power forward Carlos Boozer said after 24-point, 13-rebound outing, "but there's a huge sense of urgency to correct that last five minutes of the game so we can start getting some wins and not fall off too bad.
"Hopefully," Boozer added after 17-6 Phoenix stopped a two-game skid of its own, "we can learn from our mistakes."
There were plenty in the late going for the Jazz on Wednesday, even after Andrei Kirilenko got Utah back to within one point by hitting a 3-pointer to make it 94-93 Suns with 2:27 to go.
Jazz point guard Deron Williams forced Suns point Steve Nash into a 24-second shot-clock violation on the other end after Kirilenko's trey, but all went awry on Utah's ensuing three possessions.
First, Boozer missed what seemed to be a forced 16-foot jumper.
Grant Hill scored to push Phoenix's lead to three, and Williams taking matters into his own hands then drove to the basket for a bank shot that failed to fall.
Still down by three, Williams went to the free-throw line with 38.4 seconds remaining and promptly missed both freebies, forcing the Jazz into desperation fouling.
Williams' misses came on a night when Utah hit just 63 percent (17-for-27) from the line, including six misses on 15 attempts in the fourth quarter alone.
Nash who finished with a 29-point, 11-assist double-double made 5-of-5 free throws in the final 11.1 seconds to seal the deal for Phoenix, which also got 26 points and 15 rebounds from Shawn Marion.
"We missed a lot of free throws coming down, and you'd like to have those back," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who actually seemed more upbeat than he typically is after most losses. "We had a couple turnovers that hurt us, but I thought our guys played pretty hard. They (the Suns) were missing shots, and we were able to hang in there with them quite a bit.
"We're a young team trying to figure out what we are sometimes," Sloan added. "We got a little bit too anxious, and that's one of the things we have a tendency to have done here the last couple, three weeks."MISC.: With starting center Mehmet Okur (strained shoulder) out, Paul Millsap finished with 20 points and a season-high 13 rebounds while logging a season-high 40 minutes for the Jazz. ... Jazz backup point guard Jason Hart will miss Friday's game at Portland while mourning the death of his grandfather, Kirby Young, in the Los Angeles area. Earlier this season, Hart missed time while mourning the death of his grandmother Mr. Young's wife. ... Nash went into Wednesday's game averaging 12.4 assists the highest average in NBA history since retired Jazz point John Stockton's 12.6 in 1993-94. ... Nash had the cap on one of his front teeth knocked off when he got clipped by a Boozer forearm on a rebound play late in the second quarter. ... After spending five years coaching in South Korea, former Jazz guard Jay Humphries is a first-year assistant coach with the Suns. ... Ex-Jazz guard Raja Bell had two points and shot just 1-of-8 from the field for Phoenix. ... ESPN's broadcast crew Wednesday included ex-Jazz point Mark Jackson. ... Sloan tried to make a point with referee Ron Garretson at the end of the first quarter, but instead got corralled by ESPN for a between-periods interview that the NBA is forcing to coaches to conduct during nationally televised games.
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