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Turkey leftovers: Jazz feast in first half, snooze in second in loss

Gordan Giricek drives around Golden State's Jason Richardson. Giricek scored 10 points for the Jazz on 5-of-15 shooting.
Gordan Giricek drives around Golden State's Jason Richardson. Giricek scored 10 points for the Jazz on 5-of-15 shooting.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News

Amid speculation that he has decided to step back and stay away for a while because of his actions during a recent embarrassing loss to the New York Knicks, one in which he left his courtside seat to chew out the team, Jazz owner Larry H. Miller missed a third straight home game.

Injured power forward Carlos Boozer was gone again too, still home in Los Angeles to meet with specialists regarding his strained hamstring.

Even television play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack was absent, away so he could call a college football game for CBS.

The fellas missed a doozy, one it's perhaps best Miller wasn't around to see:

The Jazz blew an 18-point lead Friday night, collapsing in the fourth quarter as Golden State rallied for a 94-90 win behind Jason Richardson's 29 points and critical late-game 3-pointers from Mike Dunleavy, Richardson and Derek Fisher.

"I don't think we panicked," said forward Matt Harpring, one of the Jazz's team captains. "I just think they made some huge 3-point shots.

"We should have won that game," Harpring added. "It was our game."

Harpring, called for a costly flagrant foul in the final two minutes, was hardly the only one in the Jazz locker room kicking himself.

"This is a game we let go," guard Milt Palacio said. "A game we had, and let go."

Here's how it went:

Utah, which got a season-high 21 points from Harpring and a career-high 24 from rookie Deron Williams, was up by as many as 18 in the second quarter and by 11 at halftime.

When Williams used a Mehmet Okur pick to blow past Fisher and soar over 6-foot-8 Ike Diogu for a one-hander that surprised perhaps everyone in the Delta Center except for the rookie himself — "A lot of people don't know a lot of stuff," he said when a television reporter suggested many do not realize Williams could get up like that — the Jazz had to be feeling good about themselves.

Perhaps too good.

"Even though we kept moving along, you could feel it," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, "because we didn't really believe that this was going to happen."

Yet it did.

The Warriors whittled that double-digit Jazz advantage to three late in the third quarter, and again to three — after it had soared back to 11 — when Baron Davis drove the lane for a two-handed dunk that made it 86-83 with 1:31 remaining.

Davis' dunk was part of a four-point Warriors possession, one that started with Harpring before called for the flagrant foul because he clocked Dunleavy — who hit both resulting free throws — in the head.

"That was the call," Harpring said. "What are you going to do?"

Break down, as it happened for the Jazz.

After Utah guard Devin Brown was called for traveling on the other end, Dunleavy knocked down a trey to make it 86-86 with 1:07 left. Brown had an answer, hitting a long jumper to put Utah back up by two. But the Warriors came right back, and went up one at 89-88 when Richardson made his 3-pointer just six seconds after Brown's basket.

"We made a 2-point shot, didn't run back, and gave up a 3," Sloan said.

After Palacio made two free throws to put the Jazz up one with 35.9 seconds to go, things really went awry for Utah.

Coming out of timeout, Davis missed two free throws.

But former Jazz swingman Calbert Cheaney rebounded the second miss, and the Warriors worked the ball around to Fisher for his 3, putting Golden State up 92-90 with just 24.9 seconds left.

"I had him boxed out," Harpring said of Cheaney. "The ball just went two inches over my head."

Sloan, though, didn't want to hear about a game of inches.

"We didn't block off on the boards on a rebound, and they get the rebound and make another 3," he said. "Those kinds of things kill you.

"When you fall asleep and don't do the fundamental things of basketball," the Jazz coach added, "you're always going to lose."

The Jazz, though, did have one last chance to avoid just that. A trey try by Williams was off-mark with 6.9 seconds remaining.

"I was wide open," he said, "and just missed the shot."

Richardson closed the improbable comeback with two free throws, snapping a two-game Utah winning streak and leaving many with the Jazz hanging their heads.

"We got the lead, and we didn't keep that same aggression we had in the first half," Williams said. "We kind of got away from our offense, and they kept chipping away from the lead."

Until there was no lead left, as anyone who actually was in the Delta Center could easily see for themselves.