Salt Lake City — Utah coach Jerry Sloan found a descriptive metaphor for his team's predicament going into Game 4 against Sacramento, with the Jazz down 2-1 and facing elimination.
"It's like going to the electric chair," Sloan said Sunday.
The Jazz already have shown plenty of grind-it-out grit in their matchup against the top-seeded Kings, but they'll have to produce even more tonight to postpone the start of summer vacation.
"It's a one-game season," John Stockton said. "You just lay it all out there and see what happens."
The Jazz were stoic and steely before Sunday's practice. Hours later, the Kings went through what coach Rick Adelman described as a "serious" film session and shootaround, then had a playful halfcourt shooting contest.
"That's the beauty of this team," Adelman said. "They're serious, but they have a lot of fun, too. We know if our mood isn't serious and ready tomorrow, then we're going to pay the price."
During their 90-87 victory in Game 3, the Kings looked more like the high-powered team that won 61 regular-season games. They struggled again with their shooting, hitting 35 percent, but ran the floor much more effectively.
"We're getting back to being ourselves," Chris Webber said.
But don't put Sacramento into the second round yet. The Kings blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz picked their way back into contention with a methodical 13-0 run.
It made for an exciting finish, and only a series of late miscues prevented Utah from taking control of the series.
"They've been very consistent, and I never expected it not to be a very competitive series," Adelman said. "The only thing that has surprised me is that we haven't played the way I thought we could."
The Jazz feel the same way, with the most glaring shortcoming being their 55-29 rebounding deficit in Game 3. The Kings had a 10-0 edge on offensive boards in the first half and finished with 17.