Utah Jazz notebook: Raja Bell working to get out of shooting slump
SALT LAKE CITY — Before other players took to the practice court Saturday morning, Raja Bell placed a chair in the free-throw lane and started shooting while sitting down.
After a couple of minutes, he shot the ball off the thin side of the backboard, over and over.
Then, the shooting guard brought out the heavy artillery to shoot with — a medicine ball.
Utah Jazz fans groaning from home and the stands aren't the only ones who know he's in a shooting slump.
Bell is well aware of that fact, too.
"When it gets bad, sometimes you've got to go back to basics, and those are some of the drills that I've done with different people that have helped me along the way," Bell said of his morning routine. "So, it's time to get back to basics."
Bell's 7.9 points per game average is the lowest since he scored 3.1 ppg during the 2002-03 campaign in Dallas.
More concerning, though, is how Bell hasn't scored more than five points in seven games, and that he has only hit four of his last 26 field-goal attempts.
Bell can pinpoint the problem — or the "hitch" — in the release of his shot.
"There's a rhythm thing that's going on with me and so the drills like that help me to remember to keep it up," Bell said. "When I miss, I usually miss flat."
The back-to-basics drills remind him to follow through high and to leave his hand up.
"This has been one of the longer streaks that I've went being cold," he added, "so it's time to do some extra work."
Like many shooters, Bell knows the "floodgates kind of open back up" after a couple of shots go down in a row.
But unlike some shooters, he's hesitant to simply keep on shooting. Part of that mindset was drilled into him earlier in his NBA career, when he said he got pulled from games after missing just one shot.
"I was telling Ronnie Price last night, I have a conscience. Some guys don't have one, and it allows them to just keep firing and firing and firing," Bell said. "I have one and sometimes that's not good for me because you've got to keep shooting if you're going to come out of it."
LOATHING LOSING: If you think watching the Jazz lose six games in a row is tough, try coaching them in that many consecutive defeats.
"That's the worst part of the job is losing," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "John Stockton told me one time he'd rather have his wrist slashed than to lose, and he wasn't just talking. It's a personal thing."
Added Sloan: "Winning ... that's the thing you play for."
And, despite Stockton's sentiments to setbacks, Sloan believes it's usually harder on the guys barking out the orders and drawing up the plays.
"Losing is really tough to deal with sometimes," the Hall of Fame coach said. "Players have a tendency to be able to get out there and wipe it out of their system right away. Coaches have to sit and eat it. It's not as easy as a lot of people think it is."
HE'S BAAAACK: Kyrylo Fesenko hit the weight room, hit a 3-pointer and hit the practice court Saturday morning.
After the center's week, all that felt extra sweet.
Fesenko had missed three games because of a sinus infection, which he said included an on-and-off fever. He said it'll probably take him a few days of "conditioning extra hard" to bounce back.
As rough as his illness was physically, he agreed that it was also mentally difficult being away from the team.
"It is especially when the team struggles a little bit and you just feel guilty that you can't help as much as you can," Fesenko said. "Well, it's already behind me and we're ready to move on from here."
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