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News » Injury woes aside, Jazz pleased with solid preseason

Injury woes aside, Jazz pleased with solid preseason

Injury woes aside, Jazz pleased with solid preseason Record-wise, the 2009 preseason will go down as the third-best in Jazz franchise history. Utah went 6-2 for its most successful exhibition campaign since 2003 and tied the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers (yes, really) for the Western Conference preseason crown. The Jazz were a James Johnson buzzer-beating basket away from tying their best-ever preseason record of 7-1, accomplished both six years ago and in 1994. The Jazz might have been more excited had you told them yarn was on sale at a fabric store in Panguitch than they were about going 6-2 for the third time in 36 years. "I don't pay any attention to that," said coach Jerry Sloan, whose Jazz teams have only had losing preseason records twice in his 21-year tenure.

"They don't ever have that on your record." Though not exactly giddy about the exhibition record, the Jazz were happy about picking up a couple of road wins against Portland and Sacramento after struggling to a 15-26 record away from home last season. Beating division rivals Denver and the Trail Blazers (twice) was also encouraging. The breakout play of rookies Eric Maynor and Wesley Matthews will likely be the lasting positive memory of the 2009 preseason. "We had some good games on the road, but it is preseason," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "It's a start and you've got to start somewhere." Preseason success doesn't always guarantee a strong regular season or vice-versa. Utah missed out on postseason action following its hot exhibition start in its 42-40 2003-04 season, yet it went to the playoffs after winning just four games in each of the past three preseasons. For what it isn't worth, the Jazz also only had four exhibition wins in each of their two NBA Finals seasons in the late 1990s. GOING CRAZY: Because of back spasms, Ronnie Brewer didn't travel to Sacramento for the Jazz's final preseason game. The usual starting shooting guard did, however, follow his teammates' boxscore and play-by-play stats online. Brewer admitted it "bugs you a lot" to be home while your team is playing elsewhere. He also described parts of his Internet viewing experience as "crazy." "At times, I was like, 'Well, that's a crazy lineup," he said, referring to a injury-forced makeshift lineup that included Eric Maynor, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko for a while. He also laughed about how many players at the bottom of the boxscore were listed as not dressing or playing for various reasons. Utah only suited nine players for the game against the Kings. "It looked awkward," Brewer said. "... (There were) just so many guys that did not dress. I was, like, that's crazy." NO DEAL YET: The Jazz have until Saturday to pick up the third year of Koufos' rookie contract and to work out a contract extension deal with Brewer to avoid having him become a restricted free agent. Asked Sunday if Utah had decided what it will do with those contract situations, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said he had "no comment." NOW IT COUNTS: Record aside, Sloan expects even more focus out of his players now. "Once exhibition season's over, I think the mindset changes a little bit because the players start looking at the start of the season," he said. "(In the) exhibition season there's not as much pressure. There's a lot more pressure on them to do well and play well once that season starts." e-mail:

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Added: October 27, 2009


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