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NBA Playoff Watch: Jazz suffer crippling defeat, Mavericks on brink of postseason berth

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives around Los Angeles Clippers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Utah Jazz had a prime opportunity to effectively lock up a playoff berth when they faced a Los Angeles Clippers squad that rested a good portion of their lineup on Friday night. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers all sat out, but the Jazz couldn’t take advantage and lost in heartbreaking fashion on a Jamal Crawford buzzer-beater in overtime:

Crawford torched the Jazz to the tune of 30 points on 9-of-20 shooting in a whopping 49 minutes of action, but the real surprise performance came from Cole Aldrich, who had 21 points, 18 rebounds and five steals in 40 minutes.

Utah had no business losing this game, but didn’t shoot well and turned it over 18 times. With this defeat, the Jazz are now just a game up on the Houston Rockets, who currently own the tiebreaker and close the season with an easy schedule. That of course doesn’t mean all that much given the Rockets just lost at home to the Phoenix Suns, but this is still bad news for Utah. The Jazz had a chance to really bury the Rockets, and they failed miserably.

In another important Western Conference affair, the Dallas Mavericks dropped their magic number to one with a 103-93 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Mavericks rookie Justin Anderson came up big with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double, and the Mavericks are now just a game behind the Grizzlies for the No. 6 seed. The Portland Trail Blazers are in the No. 5 slot with a record of 43-37, which is one-half game ahead of Memphis.

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