SALT LAKE CITY — Their head coach was hardly the only thing missing from the Utah Jazz and EnergySolutions Arena on Friday.
On a night Tim Duncan reached a milestone in San Antonio franchise history, the Jazz were without any memorable moments during a lackluster 94-82 loss to the visiting Spurs.
"We didn't fight like we normally do," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said.
Add that nonexistent Friday night fight to Utah's AWOL list, which was topped (or bottomed out) by a devastating absence of rebounding.
The rebounding margin was even more one-sided than what the scoreboard read at the end. The real score in this one: San Antonio 46, Utah 31.
Or 16-5, which was the offensive rebounding total in the Spurs' favor.
Subbing as the bench boss so Jerry Sloan could attend a family funeral, fill-in head coach Phil Johnson was disappointed about that glaring weakness.
It was so damaging — leading to a second home loss in five nights — he even repeated the phrase.
"Offensive rebounds killed us. Offensive rebounds killed us," Johnson said. "We didn't take care of the defensive boards, so that's the ballgame."
Missing effort and boxing-out responsibilities led to 21 second-chance points for the Spurs. In comparison, the Jazz only had eight putback points.
"We did a terrible job of boxing our man out," said Jazz big man Francisco Elson, a former Spur.
For those not counting at home, that 13-point difference was one point more than the final scoring margin. Duncan and DeJuan Blair each had six offensive boards, which equaled as many rebounds as every Jazz player had overall but Millsap (seven total).
Andrei Kirileno and Al Jefferson each had a half-dozen rebounds, while the rest of the team had a total of 12.
"It's disappointing, obviously," Johnson said. "We've got to concentrate. We've got to block out."
Allowing offensive boards has been a struggle for the Jazz all season. They entered the night as the NBA's 26th-worst defensive-rebounding squad.
"It's blocking out. It's technique. ... We've gone over it. We've watched film. We've talked about it," Johnson said. "We haven't had a lot of time to practice. We've had guys out with injuries and so forth, so it's something we simply have to concentrate on and do a better job on."
And the rest of that lost-but-not-found list?
The Jazz were also lacking their shooting touch (41.9 percent).
They were minus their offense in the first and fourth quarters (season-low 14 points apiece).
They couldn't find an answer for the speedy Tony Parker (24 points) and allowed all five Spurs starters to hit double digits, including a 19-point, 14-rebound Duncan double-double for San Antonio's new all-time scoring leader.
And according to Millsap, the Jazz also suffered from a depleted enthusiasm level.
"The energy wasn't there," Millsap said. "They came with it today. They had a good scheme, and they went with it."
That's why the Spurs snapped a four-game losing skid to Utah and improved their record to a franchise-best 10-1.
It's also why the Jazz stumbled for the third time in six home games, falling to 8-5 overall with a game at Northwest Division rival Portland tonight.
Despite being far too fragile on the glass, the Jazz were right in this one in the fourth quarter after fighting back from a 15-point deficit in the first half.
Utah was within two points early in the fourth and only trailed 76-72 with nine minutes remaining. But Parker, Duncan, Richard Jefferson each hit key shots and the Spurs held Utah to only five points over the next five minutes to re-up their lead to 10.
A comeback, like rebounding, was nowhere to be found in the building after that.
Deron Williams led the Jazz with 23 points (on 7-for-19 shooting, though), five assists and four boards.7 comments on this story
And he's as concerned about the rebounding as anybody on the team. The Jazz, after all, have been outrebounded in four consecutive games and a whopping 10 times this season.
"It's having the mentality of going after the ball, but it's got to be everybody," the team captain added. "You can't just say it's the big man. It's got to come from everywhere."