You're a young NBA team playing at home with a five-game road trip coming up. You're going against an opponent that's weary from playing the night before and has lost 10 of its last dozen games. You can't miss. They can't make. You're up 26 points in the first half.

How do you keep your concentration?

According to coach Jerry Sloan, not very well. Sloan went on one of his tirades post-game, accusing his team of not wanting to make the playoffs because the Jazz didn't keep the heat on Golden State in a 91-77 win that saw the Warriors outscore Utah 47-35 in the second half.

The coaching staff's hounding was one way the Jazz at least kept their lead in double digits when the Warriors (25-38) got more aggressive in the second half and, said Sloan, began pushing the Jazz (33-32) 10 feet further in toward the basket defensively.

"The coaches are constantly reminding you to keep playing as if the score is 0-0 and just try to keep executing," said center Jarron Collins, who made the Jazz's last basket with 1:58 left after rebounding a Raja Bell miss.

"Yeah, we still have a big lead," Collins said of times in the third quarter when it seemed no matter how lax they played, they were still up 20 or more. "But you can't become complacent at any point in the season . . . We can't be satisfied just being up 20. We have to have that killer instinct."

Said Bell: "It's tough. It's a double-edged sword. You've got to love that we came out and played great and went up 25. (But) the only way to duplicate that (in the second half) is to be up 50, and nobody's going to let you do that to them."

But Bell and other players were in full agreement with Sloan that they failed miserably at having that nasty streak that Collins mentioned.

"In a tighter ballgame, against a team that didn't play last night, we possibly lose that game," Bell said. "And we can't afford to give games away."

"When you are winning for 26 points, you try for 30," said Raul Lopez, who started at point guard with Carlos Arroyo on the bench with a sore back from falling into the stands during the Laker game Monday. "When you play relaxed in this league, you are nothing."

The Jazz weren't successful at not relaxing, but Lopez said he has an idea of how to do it. "You try to think that it's not the end of the game. You have to keep working," he said. "But sometimes you see the score and you think, 'Oh, we're winning.' And maybe you relax a little."

The Jazz have often been on the other end of such first-half situations, falling far behind only to come back and at least make a game of it if not actually win. "Exactly," said backup point Mo Williams, noting that this night, the Jazz "played right into their hands" by opening the door for a Golden State comeback.

"There was a lot of time left in the game, so I feel like we can definitely learn from this game. We came out with a win, but we weren't happy with how we played.

"It's just human nature. When you're just destroying somebody, you get the sense that it's already won, which we did, and at one point we were playing like the game was already over. That's why coach was so angry with us."

Williams said he fell into the trap of getting lackadaisical. "Coach got on me about it," he said. "It's hard, but at the same time, you have no excuse not to play better."

And the only way to do that was, "I just picked it up. That's all I needed was for him to say one thing. I knew it. Everybody needed to pick it up."

Oddly though the Jazz were, to a man, hard on themselves for not winning by 50, as Bell said, the Warriors said that Utah played "with a sense of purpose," according to coach Eric Musselman. "A sense of urgency. At least our guys showed a little bit of heart in the second half," he said.

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No bulletin board material here, even if the teams don't play each other again until next season.

"They're fighting for their lives to get in that last playoff spot, and they're playing like it," said Warrior Mike Dunleavy, who had 15 points and eight rebounds while guarding Andrei Kirilenko.

"You can tell that Utah had a lot of urgency tonight," added backup guard Avery Johnson, who won an NBA title with the Spurs.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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