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Jazz booed by own fans in Game 3; it wasn't hard to see why

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SALT LAKE CITY — Vivint Arena was filled with boos.

It wasn't for the Dallas Mavericks, and it wasn't for the refs (OK, maybe a little). It was for the team wearing the black with sunset trim heading into the home locker room of Utah's 126-118 loss in Game 3 to Dallas.

The fans sent their beloved Utah Jazz to the locker room with boos and jeers.

"It's part of the game," Donovan Mitchell said. "And we weren't playing well."

That's putting it lightly. The Jazz were down by 17 points at halftime, and had just given up a 41-point second quarter.

But it was more than that. Game 3 showed what has been increasingly the case for the entirety of the season: The Jazz don't have a high-level defense.

Jalen Brunson isn't a player that should put up a cool 72 points in the last two games, and Spencer Dinwiddle shouldn't be walking into the paint at will. Both are good players; they aren't stars.

It's one thing to get torn up by Chris Paul, Steph Curry or a number of future Hall of Famers. It's another to get bested by former second-round picks. It's not a new trend, either (see Reggie Jackson last season).

Utah had two full days to look at film and practice, and nothing changed. That's not a great sign that things will get better on Saturday — especially since it's been a years-long issue.

This core has been together for three seasons now, and it seems somewhere down the road some of these issues would have been addressed. The big offseason acquisition, Rudy Gay, has yet to play a minute in the series, and the Jazz had their best moments of Game 3 only after they went small — going against the system the team has built for the better part of the last decade.

With Luka Doncic on the sideline, the Utah Jazz were heavy favorites on Thursday and in the series — so much so that they were expected to sweep the Mavericks. Utah was supposed to have at least the top three (and maybe four) best players in the series — supposed to.

Brunson, Dinwiddie, Maxis Kleber, and Dorian Finney-Smith all have a claim to be better than any Jazz player. Mitchell has scored, but very inefficiently and terrible defensively. Gobert has been good for stretches, but Utah's best moments of Game 3 came when he was off the court.

For the fans, it was all too much to take, so they booed.

They booed the performance on Thursday; they booed the frustrating season in general; they booed after a once fun era looked to be approaching a sour end.

"I booed the hell out of the TV when I was a fan," Mitchell said. "It's not personal. There's an expectation around us, it's no secret about that — everybody expects us to take care of business, and we didn't in the first half. So we got booed."

Instead of a hostile fan base reigning down their boos on the opposing team, the home crowd was left to boo their own team — in the playoffs.

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