SALT LAKE CITY — Even while his Utah Jazz teammates laughed quietly while doing circus shots before Sunday's practice, Carlos Boozer sat on the base of the basket standard with a somber, pained expression on his face.
Boozer, usually one to grin and bear it during rough times, was not in a good mood.
He remained optimistic — in words, not in the way he expressed them — that the Jazz could extend this series with a win tonight in what could be his final game in a Utah uniform.
"I think it's fine," Boozer said in sullen tones. "Our situation's fine."
Boozer maintained that he isn't mulling over what might happen — the end of the Jazz's playoff run and his own personal run with the Jazz — if that win doesn't happen.
"I haven't thought about it," the free-agent-to-be said of possibly playing in his last game as a Jazzman. "All I've been thinking about is trying to get a win."
And trying to get over one gut-wrenching loss. The power forward's disposition was downright glum as he reflected on Saturday's bitter 111-110 loss which put the Jazz in a 3-0 hole against the Los Angeles Lakers in this all-but-over second-round series.
"The worst feeling you could feel on the court" is how he described his emotions after the Lakers ripped the Jazz's hearts out.
"You feel like you gave it everything you had and still came up short."
Coming up short — some might consider that the theme of this series for the Jazz and Boozer in both the height and results categories.
Perhaps more than anybody on the Jazz not named Kyrylo Fesenko, the 6-foot-9 Boozer has struggled to find his offensive groove against the size-blessed Lakers.
Matched against 7-footer Pau Gasol, Boozer missed nine of his 16 shots and scored just 14 points, including only two in the fourth quarter, in the Jazz's must-win Saturday night.
And he clearly hadn't slept off the bitter feeling.
"It's not that last play that lost the game for us," Boozer said. "We had a bunch of plays throughout the course of the game that if the ball bounces a different way — a shot doesn't go in for them, a shot goes in for us.
"You can play the game back in your mind a million times over."
The mental replays will include some painful moments:
A third-quarter dunk attempt sent skyward off the rim on one of his rare aggressive drives.
Two missed free throws — his only foul shots of the game — that could have stretched a two-point Jazz lead to four with 4:10 remaining.
Losing the ball out of bounds with 2:35 remaining, made all the worse when Lamar Odom followed the turnover with a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 101-100 lead.
Grabbing an offensive rebound but then missing an inside shot (because of a foul by Gasol?) with 7.8 seconds remaining.
Boozer, who's averaging 17.3 points and 12.7 rebounds, didn't just have a rough go offensively in this one. He averaged 56 percent shooting over the course of 78 games during the regular season, but only averaged about 13 points on 42-percent shooting in regular-season games with L.A. In this series, he's only hit 46.3 percent of field goals in three defeats.
Also glaring, he's only shooting 40 percent from the free-throw line while being granted only five freebies in the series.
Boozer was a bit short when asked about how the Lakers' length has affected his play.
"It's part of the game," he said. "I don't have anything more to say about that."
Deron Williams, however, admitted that Boozer is being hampered by all the extra stuff the Lakers are throwing at him — height and defensive helpers...
"He's getting looks, getting touches, they're just paying a lot of attention to him," the Jazz point guard said. "Their size and length is bothering him a little bit."
It certainly showed Sunday.
But Boozer said the Jazz will be "fine" come tonight.
"I think we have the toughness to get it done," he said. "We've just got to go do it."
Carlos Boozer versus ...
NBA in 2009-10: 19.5 ppg; 56.1 FG%; 11.2 rpg
Lakers in 09-10: 13.5 ppg; 42.6 FG%; 12.0 rpg
Lakers this series: 17.3 ppg; 46.3 FG%; 12.7 rpg
Lakers in 09 playoffs: 20.6 ppg; 52.8 FG%; 13.2 rpg
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