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News » Jazz open tough week tonight


Jazz open tough week tonight


Jazz open tough week tonight As he made clear before Saturday's game in Minnesota, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan needs no reminders about his team's upcoming schedule, a four-game, six-day stretch that promises to be anything but an early holiday present.

"I don't have to look ahead," Sloan said, with the Jazz set to play San Antonio, Orlando and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers twice. "Everybody tells me."

From the day the schedule was announced, the second week of December loomed as perhaps the Jazz's toughest all season. The Magic and Lakers met in June's NBA Finals, with the Spurs joining them on the short list of this season's title contenders.

"This is a pretty tough stretch for us," Deron Williams admitted. "But it's a good test for us as well to see where we're at. We've had some good wins, but against a lot of teams that don't have winning records. So let's see how we do against the top in the league."

The Jazz squandered some of the momentum they built during a 5-1 homestand with a disappointing road loss to the Timberwolves, who own the Western Conference's worst record at 3-17 and endured a 15-game losing streak in the season's first month.

So far this season, the Jazz are just 3-7 against teams that came into Sunday with winning records. Two of those victories came against the Spurs, whom the Jazz will play tonight for the third time in the season's first 20 games.

"That's the reason why you play Basketball," Carlos Boozer said, "to play against the best teams in the league, and we've got three of them [this] week."

The loss to the Wolves also continued a trend for the Jazz . They are 0-7 when giving up 100 points or more -- Minnesota scored 108 points on 57.1 percent shooting Saturday -- compared with 11-1 when opponents fail to reach the century mark.

Playing their first road game in two weeks, the Jazz struggled against the Wolves. They went 2-for-16 from three-point range, failed to block a shot and committed 14 turnovers (beneath their season average of 14.8), which Minnesota still converted into 25 points.

"That's what happens, I think," Williams said. "You get comfortable at home and then you've got to go on the road and you start panicking a little bit."

Sloan was dismayed by his team's play to close the second quarter Saturday. After the second unit built a 14-point lead, Sloan brought back Williams and Boozer for the final four minutes of the half only to watch the Jazz fall apart, giving up an 11-0 run.

"We executed our offense with that one group that got in that ballgame," Sloan said. "We executed, threw the ball where you've got to go and didn't make up our mind what we were going to do before we did it."

Sloan called timeouts with 1:54 left in the first half as well as 2:05 into the second half -- something to which he is not predisposed -- but the Jazz couldn't snap out of their downward cycle.

They took Sunday off after playing back-to-back games, but the Jazz can look ahead to a challenging December between this week's schedule and their upcoming five-game pre-Christmas trip. Two seasons ago, the Jazz went 5-11 for the month.

"The big thing is hopefully you come back and get ready to play the next game," Sloan said. "That's the way this business is. It comes at you fast and furious and hopefully you've got your mind set to play the game and not be feeling sorry for yourself about this game.

"You have to have some toughness of being able to fight back and play forward and not backwards."

rsiler@sltrib.com Jazz vs. San Antonio

At EnergySolutions Arena

Tonight, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio ? FSN Utah, 1320 AM, 98.7 FM

Records ? Jazz 11-8; San Antonio 9-8

Last meeting: ? Jazz won 90-83 on Nov. 19

Line: ? Utah by 31/2

About the Jazz : ? With a victory tonight, the Jazz would win the series against the Spurs for the first time since the 1997-98 season. ... Andrei Kirilenko's availability is uncertain because of tightness in his back.

About the Spurs ? The Spurs have dropped consecutive home games to Boston and Denver after a five-game winning streak . ... Michael Finley wasn't expected to make the trip after spraining an ankle in Saturday's loss to Denver.


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 7, 2009

 

 
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