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Loss to Warriors doesn't drastically alter Jazz playoff chances

SALT LAKE CITY — So the Jazz lost. Now three teams are tied for the seventh playoff spot. It’s not like their fans should go into mourning.

How does a team judge itself against the Golden State Warriors? Those guys beat everyone.

Besides, the Warriors have a date with history.

The Jazz are just hoping for an invitation to the party.

Wednesday at Vivint Arena, the Warriors moved ever closer to the all-time record for wins in a season, holding off the Jazz, who played the last quarter-and-a-half without Derrick Favors.

Stephen Curry — who else? — scored six points in overtime and the Jazz had three turnovers in the same span in Golden State’s 103-96 win.

Not much drastically changed for the Jazz. It’s unlikely anyone this side of Bear the Mascot truly expected Utah to prevail. The Warriors just have too much momentum as they chase down Michael Jordan’s record-setting Chicago Bulls.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Two nights after logging the largest winning margin in franchise history, the Jazz returned to reality. But the path gets markedly easier from here. They have seven games left, but only two of those opponents would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Utah, Dallas and Houston all have 37-38 records.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the Warriors weren’t at their best. But they still had enough. They’re so good it’s hard not to cheer, even when you favor the opponent. Jazz fans tried, though, when Favors left with an injured knee with 6:50 left in the third quarter and the Jazz leading by four.

On this night the Warriors’ shooing was fairly pedestrian — 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range. Most nights they bring to mind the E.E. Cummings poem on Buffalo Bill’s sharpshooting.

They can pick off onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat.

Meanwhile, they score high on style points. This week against Washington, Draymond Green lobbed a pass off the glass to Andrew Bogut for a slam.

They even have a bit of Globetrotter in them.

Not to mention a bit of the 1995-96 Bulls, who won 72 games.

With 68 wins, you might say the Warriors are within shooting distance.

“I’ve said many times over the years that I didn’t think that record would be broken, and it still may not be,” said former Bull and current Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “We have a tough finish still to go in the last games. To be part of both situations is unreal. It’s a pretty good stroke of fortune.”

Back here on Earth, the Jazz have been trying to make recent history themselves. They haven’t been to the playoffs in three seasons. The stretch run should be captivating. Two of the Jazz’s final seven games are against teams in playoff position, while Houston has one and Dallas six. The Jazz have three remaining games on the road, Houston two and Dallas four.

The mystery is which teams will be resting their stars for the playoffs (hint, hint, Spurs), thus changing the dynamics.

Monday the Jazz beat the Lakers by 48 points. They went from playing the worst team in the conference to the best. Yet they appear to have more than enough confidence to grab one of the final two playoff spots. Against Golden State, a missed shot caromed off the rim with 7:19 left in the game, but Rudy Gobert rebounded and dunked for a 79-71 lead. Gordon Hayward landed a 3-point shot with 1:26 left to put the Jazz up 88-85.

All they needed to do was fasten the snaps.

But Klay Thompson’s 3 with 15 seconds left tied the score and Shelvin Mack’s buzzer shot was blocked, sending the game into overtime.

The Jazz crumbled late.

Crumbled but didn’t fold.

The analytics website FiveThirtyEight gave the Jazz a 93 percent chance to make the playoffs on Wednesday morning.

If attitude against a legendary team says anything, the odds are better than that.


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