Ravell Call, Deseret News
BOSTON — While some clamor for lineup changes in hopes of renewed life for the slumping Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan gave a bit more insight before Friday's blowout loss into why he is sticking with the same starting five despite ongoing struggles.
"If I thought it was something that would really turn us around, I would do it," the Jazz coach said. "I'd like to see us play like we're capable of playing with the guys we have."
It should come as no surprise to anybody that the man who's held the same job for 23 years values consistency.
"It's never been one of his characteristics to change anything," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said after Utah's third loss in a row when asked about Sloan not mixing things up.
Usually, that's turned out good to great, as Sloan's place in the Hall of Fame suggests. But he'll be the first to tell you that it can take a bad turn on occasion, too.
"I don't like to change because everybody thinks you should," Sloan said. "If they're right or I feel like they're right, I'll go ahead and change."
But not yet.
Asked if this is considered his vote of confidence in the starters, Sloan said he wants to give the first unit time to jell before the postseason.
There's also the matter of trying to develop a reserve routine, which has been a challenge with various injuries this season. Sloan admitted having an eight-man rotation would be ideal.
"You try to develop a little bit of cohesiveness with who we are and what kind of team we're going to end up with as we go forward," Sloan said. "That's been one of the things I've always tried to do, so guys will have some semblance of order of who's going to play when they come off the bench. But we haven't had that as well this year as we have in the past, so we've struggled some."
Veteran Raja Bell isn't sure a starter swap would make much of a difference anyway.
Jazz problems run deeper than just the first five.
"I don't know that it's necessarily lineup only, because we just don't do some fundamental things," Bell said. "And when you don't do those, it doesn't matter who you put on the court — you're not going to be a very good team.
"So," Bell added, "until we figure out how to do those things, we're going to struggle."
The starting shooting guard said he'll roll with whatever Sloan decides, though.
"I don't make personnel decisions," he said. "If the lineup needs to be tweaked, then I trust Jerry will do the right thing and we'll all react accordingly."
FUNNY FES: Kyrylo Fesenko added some levity to what ended up being a lousy night for the Jazz. Prior to the game, he passed a group of about 20 reporters waiting to interview Sloan.
With a slight smile, Fes stepped in front of the Jazz's interview backdrop, where Sloan stands, and elicited loud laughter after saying: "OK. Let's get this over with."
Unfortunately, the funnyman quickly left before any questions could be asked.
TURKISH TWO-FER: Mehmet Okur only played 6 1/2 minutes Friday, but it wasn't his recently tweaked back that kept him out the entire second half.
"I'm good," Okur said. "It was coach's decision."
Okur had zero points and one rebound in his fifth appearance in a row since missing six straight with a strained lower back following Achilles and ankle issues.
The bright side for Okur?
He got to witness a career-night for fellow Turkish countryman Semih Erden, who filled in for the injured Shaquille O'Neal (sore leg in first quarter) with 14 points and seven boards.
"He had a good game tonight," Okur said of Erden, one of five Turkish NBA players. "He still continues to grow up as an NBA player."
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