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News » Jazz down but upbeat about effort

Jazz down but upbeat about effort

Jazz down but upbeat about effort Whether it haunts them down the road remains to be seen. The funny thing, though, is that the Jazz seemed more flustered Tuesday night by their seemingly devastating loss at Dallas than they did spooked. One night after Jerry Sloan ranted about what he deemed to be one of the worst defensive efforts he's seen in his many years during an embarrassing home loss to the Houston Rockets, in fact, the longtime Jazz coach was more upbeat than melancholy. "I told them, 'We had the loss (Monday night), but the effort was so much better (Tuesday)," Sloan said after the Jazz blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead in the 96-85 loss to the Mavericks.

"I thought we competed," added Sloan, whose Jazz return home tonight to face San Antonio in a late-starting, TNT-televised game. "Yeah, we made some mistakes. But if you don't compete, then you don't have much of a chance to have anything good happen for you." Having his players believe all that, however, may be as tough as getting them to buy into the need to run a structured offense and actually play defense. "We fought. No question about that. We definitely fought," power forward Carlos Boozer said. "But it's tough when you still come up short and you don't win. It's hard to take a lot of good things out of the game when you lose, you know what I mean?" Point guard Deron Williams does. "You know, we thought we were headed in the right direction, if you watched the first three quarters," Williams added. "We didn't shoot the ball well (34.1 percent in the first half), we didn't score well (37 points through two quarters). "But the thing is, we were getting stops. Defensively, we were getting stops. We were helping each other out. We were able to force turnovers and get out and run a little bit. All until that fourth quarter." That, of course, is when Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki took over, scoring 29 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth as the Mavs overcame a 16-point deficit with just more than eight minutes to go and eventually swung the game by 27 points. Dallas trailed 67-52 after three quarters, marking the first time this season that the Jazz have led heading into the fourth. But the Mavs outscored Utah 44-18 in that final period, leaving the Jazz with a fourth-quarter collapse that ties for third-worst in franchise history ? just five points off a blown 20-point advantage vs. Seattle (now Oklahoma City) in 2007. "We have to do a better job of protecting our lead," Boozer said. "We've got to figure out how to play 48 minutes of Basketball," Williams added. "Not 42, not 43. Forty-eight." Cliches notwithstanding, the Jazz also know there is more to victory tonight than beating Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs. They also have some rather unhappy fans to win over, many of whom headed for the exits at EnergySolutions Arena with more than four minutes still to go in Monday's loss to Houston and the outcome ? even as they were again getting blown away in the fourth ? then still arguably in doubt. "We haven't given them much to cheer yet," Williams said. "That should always be your objective, is to want fans to want to watch you play," Sloan added. "But it's a matter of trying to get five guys to play well together, and that's what we've got to do, whoever we play." For the Jazz , that's a work in progress. "You can win some ballgames that way, and turn things around a lot quicker," Sloan said. And oh does Sloan's club ever need that. "We're digging a little bit of a hole to start with," he said. The 1-3 Jazz indeed are facing the prospect of matching (from 2001 and 2002) their worst start since opening 1-5 in 1982. "The only thing I know is to stay together with it," Sloan said. "I tell them the best thing to do is not get your head down, and there's a lot of Basketball left to be played." e-mail:

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Added: November 6, 2009


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