SALT LAKE CITY — Jerry Sloan didn't give his players any neckties, John Deere hats or fruitcake for Christmas presents.
The Jazz coach did give them about 50 hours off, though
The team will happily take that breather even if it didn't come with fancy packaging or a pretty bow.
Thanks to a break in the schedule, the Jazz practiced Friday morning and won't see each other again until late Sunday afternoon when they reconvene to prepare for Wesley Matthew and Portland on Monday night.
As Santa might say: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good … rare two days out of the gym.
"We're trying to give them as much time off as we can," Sloan said. "I think it's important for them to have as much time off so they can be with their family.
"And hopefully," he added, "that regenerates them as much as anything. I think having an opportunity to be away from basketball a little bit, that should help you a lot within itself."
Several players have family visiting.
"It's fun," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who has a packed house this weekend. "A good time of year."
Guard Raja Bell said his relatives were headed to the ski slopes on Christmas Eve, while his young sons were "going crazy" waiting for Santa's arrival.
"I got my family in town," Bell said, "and we're enjoying each other … just good times with everybody hanging out."
Bell told family members not to get him any presents (though he wouldn't turn down a James Bond car).
Sloan isn't asking for anything special, either.
"I have Christmas every day," he said. "I don't know how I could have it any better than what I've had over the years."
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