Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz's season-long rebounding struggles can be blamed on one thing, if you ask Jerry Sloan.
And poor technique isn't the weak link.
What's needed to improve on the boards, the Jazz coach insists, is simpler than that.
"That's all rebounding is: effort," Sloan said.
Old-fashioned elbow grease helped him rebound during his NBA playing days, and he's certain that formula remains true 30-some-odd years later.
"The ball's not going to come to you unless you go to it," the Hall of Fame coach said. "You can talk about it all you want, but the guys that rebound, they go after the ball."
In that case, the Jazz haven't showed enough gusto in their go this season. They were fortunate that didn't come back to haunt them Wednesday night, when they were outrebounded 57-44 in their 98-88 win over the New Jersey Nets.
That's been a familiar story this season. Coming into Wednesday's game, Utah's opponents had outboarded the Jazz by an average of 43.4 boards to 41.0.
Utah struggles most when it comes to keeping foes off the glass on defense. The Jazz rank 26th of 30 NBA teams in allowing offensive boards (12.9 per game).
Sloan doesn't lay blame at just one player or position, either. With long caroms off 3-pointers, every player on the court needs to pursue the bouncing basketball.
"If you don't go after it, it's hard to rebound," Sloan added, "and I blame that on effort."
On both ends of the court, Utah has been a mediocre rebounding team this season. The Jazz are 15th in offensive boards (11.0 rpg), 17th overall (41.0 rpg) and 19th in defensive rebounding (30.0 rpg).
FEELING AT HOME: A friendly home stretch didn't start off so well with a loss Monday to Oklahoma City, but the Jazz will have plenty of chances to make amends with home fans over the next couple of weeks.
Utah is in its most home-friendly portion of the season. Monday's game kicked off a period in which 12 of 14 games will be at EnergySolutions Arena.
Big man Al Jefferson called it "real important" for the Jazz to make hay at home between now and Dec. 10.
"That's why we really want to win our games at home for the fans," Jefferson said. "We've got a lot of them coming up and we'll just try to take advantage of it."
INJURY UPDATE: Raja Bell (strained left adductor), Andrei Kirilenko (sprained knuckle) and Kyrylo Fesenko (dizziness) were cleared to play Wednesday after being listed as game-time decisions with various health issues.
The Jazz did lose C.J. Miles for most of the game, however. The sixth man left at the 7:39 mark of the second quarter with a strained lower back. He did not return while receiving treatment in the training room and is considered day-to-day.
Bell played after missing Monday's game with a strained groin muscle, and finished with a season-high 15 points.
Bell credited three days' rest, treatment and anti-inflammatory medicine for helping his strained muscle feel "a lot less sore" by Wednesday.
Kirilenko had his ring and middle fingers on his left hand taped due to a sprained second knuckle. But he said the jammed finger was "nothing serious" and he scored 15.
Fesenko missed practiced Tuesday but was given the green light by the training staff Wednesday after experiencing headaches and dizziness from getting smacked in the head vs. the Thunder in Monday's game. He did not leave the bench, though.
ANOTHER 'E' FOR EFFORT: Perfection isn't possible, and Sloan doesn't expect that from his players. But the coach re-emphasized that he can tolerate miscues from hard workers.
"If you're busting your rear end out there and you make a mistake," he said, "you're right even though you're wrong."
Added Sloan: "And you can solve a lot of problems … if you bust your butt."
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