Jazz pound Trail Blazers but still lose home courtApr 17, 2007 - 6:15 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Carlos Boozer and the Utah Jazz did what they had to and it still wasn't enough.
Boozer scored 26 points and the Jazz posted a 130-93 rout of the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers, but the Northwest Division champions will start the playoffs on the road anyway.
Locked in as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, the Jazz (50-31) were in the driver's seat to earn home-court advantage against the Houston Rockets in the first round before stumbling down the stretch.
They still had a chance to earn home court until the Rockets (52-29) posted a 120-117 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday to clinch the fourth-best record in the West.
"They took care of business, we didn't," said Jazz guard Deron Williams, who chipped in 13 points and four assists. "[Houston] made plays down the stretch, we didn't. I guess they deserve it. We sort of fell apart toward the end of the season."
Jazz players found out about Houston's victory early in the fourth quarter, and that they would be heading to Houston for the series' first two games this weekend.
"For me, it doesn't matter. If you want to win the series, you have to win on the road anyway", Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "We can beat them, we've already showed that. And they can beat us. So it's kind of two equal teams."
Utah will host the Rockets in its regular-season finale on Wednesday, but that game will be meaningless now that the playoff picture has been settled for the two clubs. But given the Jazz's shoddy play in recent weeks, they say they still need all the work they can get Wednesday and won't simply rest all their players.
"We've played so poorly lately, it's good to get all the kinks out," Williams said. "So hopefully that will get us ready for the playoffs."
"We've got to win the game," Sloan said of Wednesday's showdown. "I don't care who we play or what the situation is. That's your job."
Gordan Giricek scored 15 of his season-high 21 points in the fourth quarter for Utah, which matched its season high in points. Utah previously reached the mark in a 132-130 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24.
The Jazz took control for good in the second quarter, turning a single-digit deficit into a 20-point lead with an 11-2 run that put them up 60-41 with 2:48 remaining in the first half.
It was by far the most lopsided win of the season for the Jazz and the Blazers' most lopsided loss, as the Jazz shot a season-high 58.4 percent from the field and had a 49-29 edge on the glass.
"They were the more aggressive team," Portland head coach Nate McMillan said. "That team is more physical, and we were never in control of the game. But it was an opportunity to get some guys some minutes."
Portland played without both its All-Star center Zach Randolph who was nursing a sore hand and Rookie of the Year favorite Brandon Roy, who has been bothered by a sore knee. Those two players alone combine for 40.4 points per game, and without them, they had little offensive firepower to match Utah.
"This was team was a little shorthanded with their personnel and we got some fairly easy baskets," Sloan said.
Most of Portland's offense came courtesy of Travis Outlaw, who scored a season-high 26, and most of that came courtesy of the free-throw line. Outlaw knocked down 18-of-20 foul shots and just 4-of-12 from the floor.
The Trail Blazers were also without LaMarcus Aldridge (heart condition), Ime Udoka (knee), Darius Miles (knee) and Joel Przybilla (knee).
Kirilenko returned to Utah's lineup after missing the last five games with a fracture in his left thumb suffered against Sacramento on April 6. He had five blocks all in the first half to go with four rebounds and four assists.
UTAH 130 FINAL
Apr 16 11:28 PM
UTAH 94 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 16 11:00 PM
UTAH 63 HALFTIME
Apr 16 10:12 PM
UTAH 26 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 16 9:37 PM
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