Denver center Dikembe Mutombo said the boos he heard wafting down from the top of the Delta Center were unexpected, even though the Nuggets were beating the Jazz, Tuesday night in Game 5 of the playoffs.
"I don't think we're the bad guys," said Mutombo. "I was a little bit shocked. I was coming back in the game and I was a little bit booed."He continued, "The past three years I was always one of the lucky guys. I always was getting cheered," he said. "I don't know. Maybe it was a lot of frustration for the fans - me blocking all their shots.
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While Denver's Brian Williams is busy calling Salt Lake City the worst spot this side of Indiana to visit, Mutombo was out this week to see what there was to see.
Mutombo said he paid a visit to Temple Square. "Today I got a chance to visit the Mormon temple and went to the mall," said Mutombo. "The people were really great to me. I was really surprised. People kept telling me, `Good luck, good luck'. Coming to the game they were telling me, `Good luck, good luck.' "
Mutombo added, however, that once he got to the Delta Center he heard the boos. "But I think maybe that's just the playoffs," he said.
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Even though the Nuggets have been in a do-or-die situation ever since falling behind 3-0 to the Jazz, the Nuggets believe the pressure is actually on the Jazz rather than themselves.
"We've played five games where if we lost, we go home - and we've won them all," said Denver coach Dan Issel. "The longer this series goes the pressure grows on Utah. There won't be any more pressure on us Thursday than there was tonight or Sunday. Anything can happen, just like we proved in Seattle."
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The boobirds started on Jerry Sloan during the fourth quarter when the Jazz fell behind the Nuggets. Many were yelling for him to take out a struggling David Benoit (1-for-8 from the field) while others wanted Felton Spencer back in the game for Tom Chambers.
With 6:48 left in the game and the Jazz trailing 73-69, chants of "Fel-ton, Fel-ton" were heard in the Delta Center. Finally at the 4:09 mark, Spencer was inserted for Chambers with the Jazz still down by four.
When asked later why he didn't put Spencer in earlier, Sloan said, "I was concerned about his foul trouble, obviously (he only had 3 fouls at the time) and Tom was playing well."
Then Sloan second-guessed himself and said of Spencer, "I probably should have played him more."
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One overlooked factor in the Jazz struggles of late has been the play of guard Jay Humphries. In the San Antonio series, Humphries was one of the heroes with his fine shooting. But he has been a non-factor in the Denver series.
In the last three games, Humphries has made a grand total of two points on 1-for-10 shooting.