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Utah Jazz: Mistake-laden Boozer goes AWOL in Game 2

SHARE Utah Jazz: Mistake-laden Boozer goes AWOL in Game 2

LOS ANGELES — On the morning of Game 2 of the Jazz-Lakers series, a Deseret News reader left a plaintive comment on the paper's Website.

"Will someone please invite Booz to the game?"

Alas, that invitation apparently was lost in the mail.

Carlos Boozer's nightmarish playoffs bottomed out Wednesday night at Staples Center, as he went missing in Utah's 120-110 loss to the Lakers.

And Boozer is running out of time to join the party.

The Jazz find themselves in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series, in no small part because of the mysterious implosion of their All-Star power forward's game.

Boozer went scoreless in the first half and finished with only 10 points and five rebounds, far off his regular-season averages of 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

An hour before tipoff, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he wasn't worried about Boozer, who has failed to score more than 20 points in nine consecutive games, including all eight in the postseason.

"A lot of that has to do with people on the perimeter being able to make some shots," Sloan said. "If we have people out there that can make shots, that takes away some of the help (defending Boozer).

"If we're not making shots, they just ... pack it in a little bit more." The Lakers, however, rarely bothered to double-team Boozer on Wednesday, usually leaving the willowy Pau Gasol to handle him alone.

It wasn't much of a burden. Foul trouble, and what appeared to be evaporated confidence, turned Boozer into a cipher.

He faced the basket only a handful of times, didn't seem to want the ball and didn't draw a shooting foul until the 5:58 mark of the fourth quarter.

Earlier, Sloan said too much sometimes is expected from Boozer.

"We can't put every possession in his hands," Sloan said. "The other people got to play and be involved in the game as well for us to have a chance to win."

The Jazz weren't quite out of it in the final minutes, but Boozer contributed two more blooper-reel moments to stall the rally.

The first came when he went tentatively to the basket and had consecutive shots blocked.

The second was on the next Jazz possession, when a pass went through his hands for a turnover.

The game might have been a blowout defeat if not for backup forward Paul Millsap, who picked up many of Boozer's minutes and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Boozer's first half was almost comically inept.

He missed two shots and failed to take a rebound in 6:31 of the first quarter, checking out of the game after picking up his second foul — an ill-considered over-the-back reach under the boards.

His second quarter was far briefer and even more exasperating.

On the first Jazz possession, he caught the ball to the left of the lane, pushed past Ronny Turiaf and attempted a scoop layup that hit the bottom of the rim. Boozer then fouled Turiaf going for the rebound.

Nineteen seconds into the quarter, Boozer had three fouls and a seat on the bench for the rest of the half. Eight games into the playoffs, he is averaging 15.1 points per game — after averaging 23.5 per game in the playoffs last season.

Millsap subbed in with 13 points and six rebounds in the half, and looked a lot more like Boozer than did the man wearing Jazz jersey No. 5.