SALT LAKE CITY -- A furious fourth-quarter comeback in Game 4 wasn't enough to extend the Jazz's playoff life, but Utah guard Devin Harris saw similarities in the way the Jazz rallied late in the season to make the playoffs and the way they rallied late in Monday's 87-81 Game 4 loss to San Antonio at EnergySolutions Arena.
"This team's been doing it all year long," Harris said. "We could have easily just folded in that fourth quarter when they built that lead, but the guys fought it out to the end. We've (come back) multiple times, making the playoffs the way we did, and it shows a lot of character and a lot of heart we have on this team."
The Jazz started the season well and had a midseason letdown, Harris said, "but we made up our minds that we wanted to make the playoffs."
Utah accomplished that, but after center Al Jefferson's 19-foot jumper cut the lead to 61-58 on Monday, an eight-minute scoreless drought did in the Jazz's hopes of seeing Game 5.
Ruthless San Antonio took advantage to build a 21-point lead that was too much for the Jazz to overcome despite closing within four points on a Jefferson layup with 49.4 seconds to go.
Guard Manu Ginobili scored a team-high 17 points for San Antonio, including a pair of 3s to spark a 15-0 run spanning the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth that ultimately swept Utah out of the playoffs.
"It's a hard moment because there's a point where you are up 20 and (coach Gregg Popovich) sat us," Ginobili said. "Then they made a run. When you go to the bench, your brain kind of stops for a little bit; you think it's done and you react. Then you've got to bring it again and mentally, it's not easy, so we didn't do as good a job as we should have with our starting lineup when we came back. But we also have to give them credit, because they were desperate, they needed to make something happen. They started pushing it, pressing us and we were a little unprepared for the last three or four minutes. They did a good job."
But not good enough against the Spurs, who are among the favorites to contend for the NBA title. Top-seeded San Antonio led at the end of all 16 quarters in its 4-0 first-round Western Conference playoffs sweep of eighth-seeded Utah.
GAME 3 Spurs 87, Jazz 81
* BEST PLAY: Jazz point guard Devin Harris slashed between two Spurs defenders and scooped in a layup over his head to cut San Antonio's lead to five points late in the third quarter before the Spurs made their run and the Jazz answered.
* BEST LINE: Center Al Jefferson scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who outrebounded the Spurs 57-43. Jefferson was helped on the glass by forward Paul Millsap, who had 19 boards and Derrick Favors, who added 10.
* KEY STATS: San Antonio's bench outscored Utah's bench 57-10 and the Jazz went 0-for-13 from 3-point range.
* SIDELINE MOMENT: The Jazz released thousands of yellow, green, blue and white balloons over the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena before the game -- as they did prior Game 3 -- but that was all the celebration the Spurs would allow for the series.
* MILESTONE: Millstone? Jazz have lost eight consecutive playoff games -- swept out of the first round in four games by the Spurs this year and in four straight by the Lakers in the second round in 2010.
* INJURY REPORT: C.J. Miles and Earl Watson were out again for Utah. Harris limped off early in the third quarter after blocking Tony Parker's fast-break layup attempt but returned shortly thereafter.
* ETC.: Ginobili was 0-for-9 from 3 in the series before draining back-to-back treys at the end of the third quarter to crank the Spurs' lead back up to double-digits after Utah cut it to four.
* UP NEXT: Th-th-th-that's all, folks. Utah currently holds only the No. 47 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, unless Golden State gets leapfrogged in the draft lottery and falls to the eighth pick, which would then fall to the Jazz.