SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) - The Jazz closed the season with a bang, beating the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, but will not have home court advantage when the NBA playoffs open this weekend.
Gordon Hayward scored 14 points in a 101-97 regular-season finale win over the Spurs on Wednesday night, but with the Los Angeles Clippers beating the Sacramento Kings, the Jazz will be the 5th seed and open their first postseason series since 2012 Saturday night at the Staples Center.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night in L.A. at 8:30 p.m., while the series shifts to Salt Lake City for Games 3 and 4, Friday, April 21 (8:00 p.m.) and Sunday, April 23 (7:00 p.m.) If necessary, Game 5 will be in L.A. Tuesday, April 25, Game 6 will be in Salt Lake City Friday, April 28, and Game 7 will be at the Staples Center Sunday, April 30.
"It's been so long and I was in a completely different role, so it's almost like it's new to me, too," Hayward said. "This time last year we all would have been booking our flights to wherever we were going on vacation. Shipping cars. People would be out of here. There's definitely a different vibe around the locker room. A different feel."
"It's the real season now, it starts now," said Jazz guard George Hill, who had 13 points and 5 assists. "It's a game of possessions and every possession matters in the playoffs. You've got to control the game. (Homecourt) doesn't matter. If you want to win championships, you've got to go on the road and win."
The win was a season-best ninth straight at home, the longest streak for the Jazz since 2012. Utah finishes the regular season with a record of 51-31, their best since 2010.
Hayward was an efficient 7 for 9 from the field while Rudy Gobert, George Hill and Shelvin Mack all finished with 13 for the Jazz.
LaMarcus Aldridge paced the Spurs with 18 points and Kawhi Leonard added 14. San Antonio faces Memphis in the playoffs on Saturday.
"The way that we've approached this is, `What do we need to do to help us be ready?" Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "We needed to play and play well and compete. And we needed to come out of the game healthy."
Both the Jazz and Spurs played all their players for most of the game, but turned it over to the reserves down the stretch. The Jazz led most of the night before a Kyle Anderson jumper tied the game at 88-88 with just under five minutes remaining. A Shelvin Mack 3-pointer put the Jazz up 96-94 as the two teams went back and forth down the stretch.
San Antonio, however, never led again as a Dante Exum steal with 28 seconds remaining forced the Spurs into a foul situation and the Jazz iced the game from the free-throw line.
"Quin and I basically did the same thing," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Got some good minutes for the main players so they get a good workout tonight. And then, at the very end, the young kids came in played
"It was a good experience for them and good workouts for everybody else."
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