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Greg Wrubell and Tom Kirkland Reporting After a nine-year lull, the Utah Jazz plowed their way through the Warriors into the Western Conference Finals.
The Jazz overcame some sloppy play, poor shooting and some cheap shots, but didn't do so until late in the fourth quarter.
The last time the Utah Jazz were in the Western Conference Finals, Carlos Boozer was a high schooler in Alaska. Andrei Kirilenko was a skinny 17-year-old playing pro hoops in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Yes, the Jazz last breathed the rarefied air of the Final Four back in 1998. But they're baaack. Utah was home to Golden State in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals Tuesday night.
In the first half, the Jazz were missing more than they were making, but getting to the glass early and often. They had 11 more offensive rebounds and 10 more second-chance points in the first half. The Jazz hit the half down by only 2 points. It could have been worse.
In the second half, the Warriors were up to their old trick. Matt Barnes cracked Matt Harpring on the head. The and-one gave the Jazz a 4-point cushion.
Stephen Jackson picked up a flagrant foul and a technical foul on a play, victimizing Dee Brown late in the third quarter.
Late in the fourth, the Jazz were up by 2. Baron Davis made two of his team-high 21 points to tie the game at 83.
At the other end, Kirilenko got 2 of his 21 points. He put the Jazz up by 2.
Then for the former Warrior, Derek Fisher, an emotional week capped off with a game-breaking 3-pointer. The Jazz led by 5, 88-83, and pulled away from there.
The final score was 100-87, and Utah is back in the conference finals for the first time since 1998.
Utah will face either the Suns or the Spurs in the finals.
It's been nine long years since fans celebrated like this. Winning ugly sure looks pretty to Jazz fans right now.
Warriors' head coach Don Nelson said, "This is one of the loudest towns I've ever coached in. This is unbelievable fan base here and the Jazz should be very proud of that.
"We're trying to compete with you guys and I think we're close. I don't know. Fantastic crowd. I mean, unbelievable."
We asked the Jazz's Matt Harpring, "What's that feeling like in the last 30 seconds when you knew you had it?"
He said, "It's nice, you know. Fans were great again tonight. They got to know that we were going to win the game in the last minutes, so that was great for them and us. It's great for us as an organization, really."
Carlos Boozer added, "We're just so excited, obviously. The fans are great. I can't really put it into words right now, but we'll figure it out later on."
Derek Fisher said, "I've enjoyed playing with this group of guys as much as any team I've ever played with."
The rejoicing will last the rest of the week as we all find out whether the Jazz open up in Phoenix or San Antonio for game one of the Western Conference Finals.