Jerry Sloan looks at the opposition, each and all doing their part, and practically drools in admiration. He watches his own club, no more than a couple with their act truly together, and it about makes him spittin' mad.
Therein lies the difference between the San Antonio Spurs and the Jazz two games into the NBA's 2007 Western Conference finals, a chasm so wide you can line up abreast 20 or so of Sloan's treasured John Deere tractors and still not touch either side.
"It's kind of interesting: They're not scoring 150 points every night," Sloan said of the team that leads the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading into tonight's Game 3 at EnergySolutions Arena. "But they're very, very efficient with everything they do. That's not a lot of flair, but that's winning basketball."
"We keep trying to get a 150-point game every night," the farmer from Illinois said.
"They don't come out and start shooting 3-point shots to start the ballgame off," Sloan said. "They pass the ball around, run a little pick-and-roll, throw the ball inside, play off of that and, then, if they get a 3-point shot, they shoot it. I mean, they're coming out and getting layups. That's when you're efficient."
"If some guy's gonna complain about not getting enough shots," Sloan said, "then he's probably not gonna guard anybody and not have anything else go well. I think that's a part of growing up and I hate to keep using that word, because I'm worn out with it."
"You have to be awfully tough to play against them," the Jazz coach said, "and right now they're far ahead of us."
"You worry about missing a shot or something on the other end of the floor, and it takes your concentration away," he said. "We have to be stronger than that mentally."
Well, you get the picture and it isn't a pretty one for Utah, which appears to perhaps be having an even tougher battle with its own self-doubt than with a San Antonio team that simply owned the Jazz in the series' first two games.
It's for that very reason, veteran guard Derek Fisher suggested, that the Jazz must avoid opening Game 3 overwhelmed by a sense of urgency.
"In terms of desperation, or a feeling as though life is slipping away from us right at the start of this game I think that will be a mistake on our part," he said.
"I think it's important to really come out and be who we are, to be smart, to be efficient, to be poised and composed and to allow the way we play basketball to win the game," Fisher added. "If we try to win this game on emotion and on the crowd and on all those things that we really don't have a lot of control over, then we'll be in trouble."
Perhaps the Jazz's best course for steering clear of tribulation, then, will be trying to get others going besides just point guard Deron Williams and power forward Carlos Boozer.
"We have to have everybody step up," Williams said. "We have to have everybody full force on this team. ... We need everybody clicking, everybody on full cylinder."
Williams and Boozer combined for 113 of Utah's 196 points in Games 1 and 2.
The rest of the Jazz, though, have struggled like Sloan trying not to forget just how far his franchise has come in its first postseason appearance since 2003.
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