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News » A Thunder-ous thud


A Thunder-ous thud


A Thunder-ous thud They could have been in Oklahoma City, not Salt Lake, for all it seemed like they cared about defending their homecourt. Watching over the Basketball was troubling, too. Combine the two blockades, and it's little wonder the Jazz fell 104-94 to the Thunder on Tuesday night at not-nearly-sold-out EnergySolutions Arena ? ending their modest three-game win streak.

"We turned the ball over 24 times," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, "in a very important game, one of the biggest games we play all year long, against a team in your division, in your building. "With that many turnovers," he added, "it's pretty hard to come away with a win." Sixteen of the Jazz's miscues came during a second half in which they were up by one early and trailed by as many as 19 with just more than seven minutes to go ? only to see a late-game rally bid by Utah fall short. A season-worst seven turnovers were committed by point guard Deron Williams, who bemoaned the 7-7 Jazz having lost three of their seven games so far at EnergySolutions. Moreover, the defeat ended Utah's four-game home win streak over a now 8-7 Thunder team that got a game-high 28 points from Kevin Durant. "We're not really used to losing like this ? especially in games we know we should win," forward Paul Millsap said. "We just (have) to do a better job," Williams added, "of protecting the homecourt. ... A couple years ago, we lost three (actually four) games all season (at home). ... It is a little disheartening ? but there's a lot of Basketball left to play." Sloan, however, might cringe if the Jazz continue to play like they did in Tuesday's second outing of a six-game homestand. "We just started taking shots and got into casual mode," he said, "and I thought (the Thunder) did a terrific job defensively. "That's where you come together as a team if you're gonna have a chance to do anything in this business. You can't be all just about trying to score points." The Jazz did get 26 with 11-for-15 field shooting from forward Carlos Boozer, but Sloan was miffed by the defensive effort of his bigs. "It's hard to cover anybody if you're afraid of getting hit," he said. "You've got to get up and take some punishment to be able to guard those guys, because they're gonna run you off screens." Williams, meanwhile, was smothered when the Thunder switched 6-foot-7 shooting guard/defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha onto him. "He got up and played Deron," Sloan said. "He didn't back away from him. You know, we didn't get up and play them like they played us." "He's a bigger guard, took a lot of things away from me," Williams added. "That's pretty much it; it was just his size and length. I always have bigger guys on me. I just have to be more aggressive next time." The Jazz exhibited minimal aggressiveness during a third quarter in which Oklahoma City went from 54-53 down to 84-68 up. But it wasn't for lack of creativity, as Utah even attempted ? unsuccessfully ? some seldom-used zone defense against the Thunder. "I was trying anything. And obviously that didn't work, either," Sloan said. "That was a bad decision on my part. I made a lot of bad decisions in the game, with who I played and who I didn't play. But that's part of it." So, too, was how things went for the Jazz in the fourth. Down 96-77 before Andrei Kirilenko's 3-pointer with 7:10 left, the Jazz got to within eight at 96-88 when Eric Maynor fed 19-point scorer Millsap for a dunk with 2:58 remaining. But Utah came up dry on six of its final 10 possessions in the last 3:49, including a charge call on Boozer, a travel call on Millsap, Maynor's rimmed-out trey try and three turnovers billed to Williams. "Even though I thought we had a chance to come back and win the game," Boozer said, "a couple of calls ? a couple 10 calls, it seemed like ? slowed our momentum down. Questionable calls to me ? but, you know, they (referees) have got a tough job to do." So, too, do the Jazz if they're to regain their EnergySolutions swagger. "We've just got to get that fire back, get that confidence back that we can beat anybody," said Williams, who shot 5-for-14. "We used to think when people came in here it was an automatic loss (for them) ? and we've got to get that back." "We've got to turn this thing around fast, man," Boozer added, "because it will catch up on us. ... We can't lag behind and pile up a bunch of losses early, because it will bite us in the you-know-where at the end of the season." MISC.: With starting center Mehmet Okur (stomach virus) back after missing three games, Utah had 10 players available ? not just nine ? for the first time in six games. ... With a fourth-quarter 3-pointer, Okur moved past JeffHornacek and alone into fourth place on the Jazz's all-time treys made list with 440. JohnStockton (845) leads, followed by BryonRussell (540) and DarrellGriffith (530). ... Kirilenko had two blocks, leaving him one shy of tying GregOsterag for second-most in franchise history. e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 26, 2009

 

 
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