SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Confetti fell to the floor and Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best” blared from the speakers.
The best? Probably not, but certainly better than Utah fans have seen in a long time.
The Jazz clinched their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 1998 by beating Golden State 100-87 Tuesday night, winning the series 4-1 by finally slowing down the galloping pace that had gotten the Warriors this far.
Utah dominated the rebounds 59-35 and outslugged the Warriors in another physical game that had plenty of collisions and a few tantrums.
“That’s the way close-out games should be. They’re going to let you play. They’re going to let you earn it. And we earned it,” said Utah’s Carlos Boozer, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Utah ended Golden State’s surprising run through the playoffs and got the Jazz back to where they haven’t been since the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone, whose numbers now hang from the rafters at the EnergySolutions Arena.
Stockton and Malone were still in their prime the last time the Jazz made it this far in the playoffs, when they won back-to-back Western Conference titles in 1997 and 1998. With Stockton’s No. 12 and The Mailman’s No. 32 hanging above them, the new Jazz improved to 6-0 at home in the playoffs.
“I don’t think anybody really knew, including ourselves, how good our team could be,” Fisher said.
Utah held Golden State to 14 points in the fourth quarter and unraveled the Warriors, who had knocked out top-seeded Dallas in the opening round but were badly outmatched in much of this series.
Still, the Warriors were in it until the Jazz started making their free throws in the final minutes.
“We were there the last four or five minutes of the game and had a shot. And that’s where they showed their dominance,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “I thought they were just fantastic in this series.”
Baron Davis led Golden State with 21 points and eight assists. The Warriors needed a stellar run through March and April just to make it to the playoffs, then as the No. 8 seed had one of the biggest upsets in postseason history by knocking off the Mavericks.
The Warriors finally ran out of energy and patience at the end of Game 5.
“We were three wins away from going to the Western Conference finals,” Davis said. “We can’t regress. We have to use this opportunity and this platform.”
Utah will play either Phoenix or San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.
Paul Millsap had 12 rebounds and Utah atoned for an otherwise shaky game by grabbing 20 offensive boards to Golden State’s six. That helped make up for the 25 turnovers, which coach Jerry Sloan will have almost a week to harp on before the next series begins.
“If we hadn’t of rebounded the ball, we would have really been in trouble,” Sloan said.
Deron Williams battled foul trouble and scored just two points, but he had seven assists and Fisher picked up the slack in the backcourt and flustered his former team, which traded him to Utah last summer.
Golden State had two technicals and a flagrant foul in the second half.
Davis, who received a flagrant foul from the NBA earlier Tuesday for knocking down Fisher late in Game 4, was caught grabbing Fisher’s shorts as Fisher was getting up after one of many collisions in the game.
Official Bennett Salvatore was right there and called Davis for the foul, which was symbolic of how the game was going. The series and season were falling out of the Warriors’ grasp.
“Utah was the better team this series. You know we’ve got to give them credit point blank,” Stephen Jackson said. “They beat us up inside.”
The Jazz kept the Warriors’ hopes alive for a while by missing half of their first 22 free throws, then regained their composure from the line and scored their last 12 points on foul shots.
Kirilenko broke the last tie of the game on a tip-in with 6:04 remaining, then Fisher added a 3-pointer 19 seconds later to put Utah up 88-83. It was Utah’s last field goal.
Davis made two free throws and Jason Richardson added a jumper with 3:39 left to pull the Warriors within 88-87, then Golden State didn’t score again and the Jazz sealed it from the line.
Jackson had 16 points and five assists, and Jason Richardson had 13 points and eight rebounds for Golden State, which couldn’t keep up the galloping pace that carried the Warriors through the first round and pushed the Jazz in the first four games of the series.
Golden State was 6-for-30 from 3-point range. … Utah G Dee Brown returned after missing two games with a sprained neck and had two points and two assists. … The Jazz are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, Stockton and Malone’s last season with the team. … The Warriors forced 14 turnovers in the first half.