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A travel, a missed 3 and the Jazz season ends in Game 6 loss to Dallas

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz looked to be on a fastbreak that would win the game.

The ball went to Mike Conley, the savvy trusted veteran. He cut inside, but that's where trouble awaited. He was forced to stop his dribble, and as he passed out, the officials deemed his pivot foot had moved. Travel.

With seconds left in the game, Conley traveled away one of Utah's best chances to extend the series.

Another opportunity came just a few seconds later. Jazz coach Quin Snyder drew up a play that got Bojan Bogdanovic a wide-open 3-pointer in the corner at the buzzer. It missed.

A travel and a missed wide-open corner 3 — that's how the Utah Jazz season ended. The Dallas Mavericks beat the Jazz 98-96 in Thursday's Game 6 to win the series 4-2. The Mavericks move on to play Phoenix in the second round of the playoffs.

The Jazz, meanwhile, see their season end, filled with memories of unmet expectations and missed opportunities. Utah's final loss of the season was a familiar tale; the Jazz jumped out to a 12-point lead at halftime before the Mavericks came rolling back in the third quarter to take control of the game.

Yes, you have heard that one before — more times than any fans care to admit.

Utah overcame a poor start from 3-point range by exploiting Dallas inside. Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and even Royce O'Neale were able to break the paint for easy looks. The Jazz shot 60% from inside the arc in the first half.

There was energy. There was passion. And that helped the Jazz close the first half on an 18-5 run to take a double-digit lead. That's when the predictable let up occurred; and once the Mavericks' shots started to fall, Utah quickly found itself in a hole.

Dallas was 3 of 18 from behind the arc in the first half but went 8 of 12 in the third quarter. The Mavericks outscored the Jazz by 17 points in the third quarter; and Utah's once-sizable lead was gone.

Of course, the Jazz had to give up a double-digit lead in their final game of the year. It was almost too poetic for it not to happen. But this time, there was no talk about how they could fix it going forward. That time was up. There's no next time or next game. The Jazz built an unfortunate identity this season, and that's how things ended.

So instead of talking about what they could do better next time or what things need to change, Snyder got reflective after the game.

"I'm incredibly proud of this team, the way that we competed tonight," he said. "Obviously, the result speaks for itself, but it was a pleasure coaching this group."

The results were clear: The Jazz weren't good enough. They had championship aspirations and they were bounced in the first round. They now face questions of where everything goes after another disappointing exit.

No one could really point to why they struggled to be a cohesive unit this season. Sure, they heard the outside noise and the rumors of discontent between Gobert and Mitchell, and they heard the reports of Snyder being looked at for other jobs. It all could have played a part. But moments after the season ended, it was hard to contemplate the "why" in the instant crushing weight of disappointment.

"There was a lot of stuff going on," Mitchell said. "We just didn't rise to the occasion. … I'm not gonna put the blame anywhere else. We didn't do enough. That starts with me."

Mitchell had 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in the loss in what was probably his best all-around game of the series — all of players could say that. Royce O'Neale had his best defensive game against Luka Doncic, and Conley had eight assists in the first half, alone.

Yet, even with all that, it wasn't enough at the end.

Down by a single point, the Jazz forced a miss from Doncic with 11 seconds left to play. Instead of calling a timeout, Utah pushed the ball — reminiscent of its Game 4 victory. That game ended with a Mitchell-to-Rudy Gobert lob; Thursday ended with Conley sliding his pivot foot for a turnover.

Still, the Jazz had one last chance. After Jalen Brunson missed a free throw, Utah still had life.

O'Neale found Bogdanovic in the corner on the inbound pass. Bogdnaovic shook a defender with a shot fake and put up an uncontested triple that would have won the game and sent the series back to Dallas for Game 7. It banged off the rim as the Mavericks raised their hands in celebration.

"No shame in the way we played," Snyder said. "We got beat. That's a tough one."

And it ended a tough season.

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