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News » Sloan already frustrated over defense

Sloan already frustrated over defense

Sloan already frustrated over defense With all the work, emphasis and talk Jazz players have done regarding improving it this fall, there's no doubt they can use the word defense in a sentence. Winning a spelling bee with that word might be another story. "Defense?" Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said when a reporter remarked that the concept seemed to be the theme at Saturday's practice.

"I don't know if we could spell it the way we've looked, the situation we're in." That wasn't a slam on their intelligence. It was just the frustrated Sloan's way to spell out that his players haven't put the D part in the e-f-e-n-s-e to his satisfaction this season. Watching video of Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers didn't sit too well with the Hall of Fame coach, especially with Denver's 114-point performance in the opening loss fresh in mind. Sloan was especially irked that the Jazz let the Clippers do a layup drill for a while and that L.A. scored a couple of easy baskets on inbounds plays. And it was, as noted, clearly on his mind Saturday. Questions about Deron Williams' fast start, about Carlos Boozer's shooting struggles and, yes, about defense all ended up with defense in the answers. "Everybody has a lot of room for improvement on the defensive end of the floor," Sloan said. "I was embarrassed for us in the first half (Friday). We gave up 60 points and the way we gave it up after looking at the films is pretty revealing." And quite frankly, Sloan couldn't care less if his players can spell defense. He just wants them to play it consistently. That's why he mixed in a video session with the sweat-producing workout Saturday. "You get tired of talking about, 'We want to play defense, we're going to play defense.' Well, talking's not going to get it done, obviously," the coach said. "Hopefully, they get a chance (studying game tape) to see what they are doing wrong and try to hold them accountable for it." Defense was certainly on the minds of the players before practice. Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap jokingly jawed back and forth about who should have been credited for one particular steal Friday. Millsap said he tapped the ball away, so he rightfully deserved the stat he got. Brewer ended up with the ball, so he thought statisticians stole a steal from him. The playful banter did humorously reveal that scoring points isn't the only thing on these players' minds. "Before we got here, Andrei Kirilenko set the standard with deflections and blocks and stuff like that," Brewer said. "We just want to come in and do our part and make it competitive and fun." Brewer said steals and defense go hand-in-hand ? even if the wrong guy gets credit. "A lot of people say steals is not a great statistic to base your defense off of," said Brewer, whose 1.7 steals per game last season ranked sixth-best in the NBA. "But if you're in front of your man and you're playing in the help position and you're playing the passing lanes, you're going to get steals. So there's defense." The Jazz just need forcing turnovers ? and other stops ? to happen more often. "We've been playing good defense in spurts," Brewer said, "but not consistently for 48 minutes." They also need all players on the court to contribute. "You've got to have all five," he said, "pretty much one heartbeat." That finally clicked in for the Jazz after they found themselves trailing by six late in the third quarter Friday. Utah tightened its defense and held the Clippers to just 38 second-half points, including only 14 in the fourth quarter en route to the rout. "Rotating, getting steals, make them take tough shots and getting shot-clock violations" helped the Jazz do a defensive 180, Brewer said. "And I think that's the way the game's supposed to be played." Sloan just hopes players will start using defense in full games ? as well as in sentences ? starting Monday against Houston. He'll take show-and-tell over speak-and-spell any day. e-mail:

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Added: November 2, 2009


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