SALT LAKE CITY — He was supposed to play second fiddle inside, a virtual afterthought after the offseason acquisition of Al Jefferson to replace Carlos Boozer as Utah's main man inside.
But early on in the Jazz's 2010-11 NBA season, Paul Millsap has been acting more like the leader of the band.
Talking like one, too.
Granted, the beat is off and the bass just isn't right — especially after Utah dropped its second straight, losing Thursday night's home opener at EnergySolutions Arena to the Phoenix Suns.
But while Jefferson and point guard Deron Williams work to refine their act, a definite project in progress as Jefferson toils to grasp the intricacies of the Jazz system, starting power forward Millsap is more than carrying his weight.
And he is speaking his mind as well, saying afterward Thursday that the Jazz simply have "no chemistry."
Asked if that's because new teammates aren't on the same page or if they simply haven't played together enough yet, his answer was as direct as one of his patented putbacks.
"It's the same thing," Millsap said. "We're not on the same page because we haven't played enough. But, in due time, it will come, and when it does, we'll be headed the other direction."
In the debacle that was Wednesday night's season-opening 22-point blowout loss at Denver, Millsap was the lone bright light down low.
While starting center Jefferson managed just six points against the Nuggets and starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko only two, Millsap had 15 along with eight rebounds in just 28 minutes.
Thursday night, in a 110-94 loss to the Suns, Jefferson did wind up with a team-high 20 points.
But it took him 8-for-18 shooting from the field and 4-for-7 shooting from the free-throw line to do it. Moreover, the man who arrived via trade from Minnesota shortly after power forward Boozer departed for Chicago via free agency was just 4-for-10 from the field at halftime with 10 points. And he pulled down only seven rebounds.
Millsap, meanwhile, had a 19-point, 13-board double-double and was an efficient 9-for-13 from the field. He did all that despite foul trouble, something he became all too accustomed to in seasons past as Boozer's backup.
"That's life," he said of his five fouls Thursday. "That's life. I mean, sometimes things aren't gonna go your way. You've just got to keep fighting."
It's the same approach the Jazz must take, he suggested, to solve their chemistry issues.5 comments on this story
"The season's not over with, but you want to step out there and win every game you play," Millsap said. "We've got to find other ways to win, and we haven't been doing that the past two games.
"We (need to) go out there and play hard. Forty-eight minutes, and not just a 12-minutes stretch. You know, the whole game.
"Just because shots aren't falling doesn't mean we can't win the game," he added. "We've got to get stops on the other end, get out and run, try to make some things happen. We can't sit back and let it come to us."