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Starks takes blame for missed chance

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John Starks has played in the NBA long enough to have been a hero and a goat, and he knows the difference.

Saturday night he was the goat, and to his credit, he made no excuses.

"I just made a bonehead play," Starks said, after throwing away the Jazz's last chance to tie or beat the Memphis Grizzlies. "I take the blame for that."

Notice Starks said he takes the blame for "that" — presumably meaning the last play of the game. Because that's all he can be blamed for, since it was a total team effort that resulted in Utah's 97-95 loss to the Grizzlies at the Delta Center.

The very fact that Starks was in the game underscores how poorly Utah played. Lately he and center John Amaechi have been completely out of the regular rotation, and even Amaechi saw 16 minutes of action against Memphis.

They were low-impact minutes, as Amaechi still looks like a guy just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. He made one of five shots for two points, with two rebounds and two turnovers.

Amaechi was on the floor largely because Greg Ostertag got the quick hook for the second game in a row, after netting five rebounds and zero points in a 10-minute stretch over the first two quarters.

Amaechi and Starks played, coach Jerry Sloan said, because when they got a chance they appeared to be hustling.

"I'm going to play the guys that are going to try to hustle," Sloan said. "I thought both Johns came out and gave us some energy."

Starks also was in because he's been in such situations before.

"John's not afraid to take the shot, and sometimes we don't take the shots that are there for us," Sloan said.

Starks probably should have been even more fearless, as a missed shot would have looked better than the play that ended the game. With 5.5 seconds left Utah's Andrei Kirilenko blocked a Shane Battier jumper. Starks grabbed the loose ball and raced upcourt. Faced with two Memphis defenders, he stopped, turned and passed right past streaking teammates John Stockton and Karl Malone. Memphis' Brevin Knight snatched the loose ball and raced toward the Jazz basket as time expired.

Everyone, including Starks, agreed he should have called timeout.

"We've got to know to call timeout in that situation," Sloan said. "We were scrambling. But that happens. It can happen to anybody. I'm not blaming John."

"It was indecisive on my part," Starks said. "I wanted to call timeout, I wanted to shoot the ball. When I looked back I saw Stock, and as soon as I passed, he cut . . . I have to know in that situation to call timeout."

E-mail: rich@desnews.com