Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Less than average. Bottom of the heap. Going nowhere.

This is where the directionless Jazz are at 73 games through the 2010-11 season, having fallen below .500 for the first time since Nov. 5 after a heartbreaking overtime home loss to New Orleans on Thursday.

Utah has dropped four consecutive contests, six of eight, and has only beaten one team with a wining record since Jerry Sloan resigned Feb. 10. All while the Jazz (35-36) have refused to concede a frustrating, disappointing year during which initial high expectations have slowly given way to a halfhearted rebuilding process that is officially on pause until Utah is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

The Jazz haven’t been this low at this point during a season since the 2005-06 campaign, when the team finished 41-41. That was Deron Williams’ first year in the NBA, and it was the last time Utah failed to make the playoffs.

Now, even when the Jazz play well — as they recently did against New Orleans and Houston — the team has been unable to close out games and secure wins, lacking a killer instinct and often being at least one premier athlete removed from being the best squad on a given night.