Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
The message Jerry Sloan delivered after the Jazz's latest debacle is not one he likes to pull out often.
But after Portland beat Utah 87-73 Friday night at the Delta Center dropping the 24-26 Jazz to two games under .500 for the first time this season, and marking their fourth loss in a row Sloan felt as if he had no choice to use words just like these:
"Hey, get your ice picks out. Get all your stuff solved. Go out in the parking lot. Do whatever you have to do, to get all the nonsense taken care of, so we can play basketball. Let's get back to the business of basketball."
Beyond the words, Sloan suggested some changes may be on the way including possible alterations to the starting lineup before Utah visits Phoenix tonight.
"I'll probably have to make some changes, to see if we can at least get the effort and then go from there," said Sloan, who has to wait yet again to try to become the eight man in NBA history with 900 or more career coaching victories.
Sloan, who did specify what personnel moves he was considering, said the ol' ice-pick message is "just a way of trying to make a point because, you know, everybody likes to nit-pick."
Especially with each other.
The Jazz seemed to be doing a lot of that Friday, when the Trail Blazers used a 13-0 run in the third quarter to go from three points down to 10 up at 60-50.
The Blazers, who got a game-high 19 points and another 14 rebounds from 22-year-old center Zach Randolph as all five of their starters scored in double figures, led by eight or more the rest of the way.
After Portland extended its fourth-quarter lead to 14 at 68-54, Utah did whittle it back to nine, 72-63.
But that's when the Blazers reeled off another one, this one 11-0 to go up by 20, 83-63, when Randolph hit a pair of free throws with three minutes and 38 seconds to go.
With that, Sloan who did make one change to his regular rotation Friday, subbing Mo Williams at shooting guard and shifting Raja Bell to small forward around the time struggling rookie Sasha Pavlovic might normally enter at the 3 spot went to work on his postgame speech.
Afterward, Jazz players reacted, with one suggesting a closed-door team meeting might be in order.
"We probably need to sit and talk as a team," Bell said. "You know, there's so much being said from so many different places that we all need to somehow get on the same page, and I think it is gonna take that."
Bell, though, suggested there is hope for the already overachieving Jazz to get back to their winning ways.
"I don't think anyone in this locker room isn't for winning," he said. "You know, I think (everyone's) goal is to win the games. I don't think that's the problem.
"But, for some reason or another, we're not playing the way we're capable of," Bell added. "I mean, we've seen ourselves play harder and better, so we have to figure out why we're not."
Others on the young, rebuilding, injury-decimated team seemed to agree.
"I think we are a little bit down right now, emotionally and physically," said forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had a team-high 11 rebounds and a team-high 14 points on just 5-of-15 shooting from the field in his second outing since being selected for the upcoming NBA All-Star Game. "Everybody needs to step up a little bit not just in games, but in the locker room before the game. Out spirit is a little bit down."
"I think everybody on the team likes each other, from what I know, and everybody talks to each other. There's not a person on the team that does their own thing," shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson added. "I just think right now we're struggling and when you struggle, you look for other things. Every little thing, you try to look for."And many lately, unfortunately for the Jazz, are not the what one ideally would like to see.
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