Utah Jazz notebook: Francisco Elson struggled as a starter
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
MEMPHIS — The Utah Jazz didn't get run off their own court Wednesday by the Atlanta Hawks because Paul Millsap wasn't there.
The Jazz had problems on multiple levels — from defense, poor shooting, lack of energy, you name it.
But not having Millsap's services for a rare change certainly didn't help their cause — and it's still uncertain whether the Jazz will have the power forward back from his bruised right hip injury tonight in Memphis or not.
Millsap is considered a game-time decision, so it's possible he could miss only his eighth game in four-plus seasons when the Jazz visit the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.
"That definitely hurts," Williams said about missing Millsap. "But we've had guys injured in the past. That's no excuse to come out and get beat by 20 on your home floor."
With or without Millsap, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan expects players to do their jobs.
"We missed Paul, there's no question about that. Don't misunderstand this," Sloan said. "But you've still got to do what we're capable of doing.
"Whoever's out there, you've got to execute and you've got to know what's happening and what they're doing."
Big man Francisco Elson as much as admitted he didn't help the Jazz deal without having Millsap after starting for the first time in a Utah uniform.
Elson, for whatever reason, wasn't as comfortable with the starters as he's been while being a valuable and energetic player off the bench the sparkplug of a second squad.
"It was kind of rough," Elson said of his start. "I didn't have my best performance like I wanted to. I was struggling."
Sloan believed there was plenty who shared responsibility for the Jazz's blowout loss, but he acknowledged the 34-year-old's difficult outing.
The 7-foot Elson finished with zero points and only one rebound in 18 minutes.
"(Elson) didn't have one of his better games," Sloan said, "so that made it difficult."
Millsap averages 17.5 points and 8.0 boards, so his production was obviously missing.
"We definitely miss Paul," Kirilenko said. "He is a huge part of our team, a huge part of our offense and defense. We were definitely short of points in the paint, and he is the guy who delivers those."
The Jazz are now 4-3 without Millsap in the lineup since he joined the team in 2006.
CHANGE IN THE AIR?: Sloan has been forced to make changes to the Jazz's starting lineup in recent games, what with injuries to Kirilenko, Millsap and Raja Bell.
And he says the coaching staff evaluates daily what options might work best.
But if there's one thing Sloan appreciates, it's stability.
In other words, don't expect the Hall of Fame coach to veer away from a regular starting rotation that includes Williams, Bell, Kirilenko, Millsap and Al Jefferson anytime soon. Injuries notwithstanding, of course.
"People want to make change all the time. I'm not exactly sure that's the right thing to do at this point," Sloan said. "I have confidence if we stay together and play we'll be all right."
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: The league kicked off its NBA Fit week Wednesday, and that topic was brought up amongst players.
Asked to name the Jazz's fittest player, a few teammates listed Deron Williams, Francisco Elson and Jeremy Evans.
Williams said Jefferson's name, but the fact that Big Al was teasingly pretending to interview him at the time might have played a role in that response.
Jefferson's choice was Evans. He noted that the 6-foot-9, 196-pound rookie with wild athleticism has approximately zero body fat and added with a chuckle, "I'm jealous."
(We're still waiting to see the in-depth report Jefferson was apparently working on while interviewing Williams.)
Contributing: Andrew Aragon
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