The Utah Jazz season ended three points short after a remarkable second half brought them back from 19 points down at the end of the first half.

If only.

Utah's 108-105 loss at EnergySolutions Arena to the Los Angeles Lakers — a game the Jazz had three chances to tie in the final seconds but missed their hurried shots — could have been a different story had Utah made a better start.

For a team struggling to find its game in a terrible first half, things only got worse to end the second quarter, leaving Utah a 19-point hill to try to climb once intermission was done.

After two straight Jazz turnovers, a C.J. Miles defensive rebound gave Carlos Boozer an opportunity for a lay-in. He made it. but he slightly stuck an elbow out on the way into the lane and was called for the offensive foul, the basket taken away.

Then, with Derek Fisher trying for a Laker 3-pointer out of the right-side corner, Jazz point Deron Williams went up with him and got his former teammate on the arm — a call good for three free throws for Fisher, who made them to give the Lakers their biggest lead of the game.

Both were likely the proper calls, though Jazz faithful remained terribly unconvinced. But they were the kind of tough breaks the Jazz seem to have gotten much of the series.

Utah did regroup at the half and make some stabs at playing like it wanted the season to continue in the third period, despite the tough breaks to end an utterly deflating first half.

Ronnie Brewer made a three-point play and came back with two free throws moments later to start the period for Utah, and a Boozer basket and Williams three-point play cut the Laker lead to 13, and Andrei Kirilenko, Brewer and Williams were getting out and running, making lay-ins, and Memo Okur made a 3-pointer followed by a 15-footer — but Utah was still down 14, and even another Okur three couldn't keep the Lakers from leading by 16 after three.

It set the stage for a tremendous fourth-quarter run that ultimately fell just short, with yet another tough, heart-wrenching call against the Jazz. Matt Harpring was guarding Kobe Bryant, who kicked out a leg taking a 20-footer, and the contact on Harpring's leg was called a foul that gave Bryant a three-point play to run the lead back to 13 at 99-86.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com