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Utah Jazz notebook: Hesitant early, Millsap settled in against Lakers

Published: Sunday, Jan. 4 2009 12:08 a.m. MST

It took him a little while to get going.

But once he did, it wasn't long before Jazz forward Paul Millsap — who returned for Friday's road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers after missing three games due to a sprained posterior cruciate knee ligament — was looking like his usual self.

"Well," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, "I think he was reluctant a little bit in the beginning of the ballgame. But he picked it up in the second half. He had 13 (of his game-high 17) rebounds in the second half. He went after the basketball.

"I think he'll get himself back," the Jazz coach added, "and (we'll) see what happens."

Millsap, clearly bothered by a cumbersome brace that he wore around his knee, was shooting just 1-for-7 from the field with three points through three quarters.

Yet, he still finished 7-for-16 and with 16 points, extending his double-double streak to 17.

"It was OK," Millsap said of the knee. "I was a little slow right now but, you know, that is all part of the game, and I am just looking forward to the next one."

The Jazz — who practice today after getting Saturday off — play host to Golden State Monday night, the first outing of a four-game homestand.

GROWING PAINS: Sloan was asked after Friday's game if he's resigned to living through the growing pains that come with starting 21-year-old small forward C.J. Miles.

He indicated there might be another option.

"Yeah, or not play him," the Jazz coach said. "That's a decision you have to make. I don't always make the right decision."

Miles shot just 3-for-12 from the field and was tagged with four turnovers, including Trevor Ariza's key late-game strip.

"He's a young guy, and if he's going to play in this league he's got to get tougher," Sloan said of the fourth-year pro who came straight to the NBA from Skyline High School in Dallas. "I mean, he can play. But if he's going to be a factor in the league, he's got to learn how to compete.

"There's loose balls out there on the floor, the Lakers guys were diving on the floor for loose balls. And we waited for them to get it a couple times. We went away from it. That's not a good sign.

"You make yourself better by going after the basketball and competing," he added in response to the same Miles question. "If you knock somebody down, foul 'em. I don't have a problem with that."

NO RESPECT: The Jazz were none too pleased with Friday's officiating, and suggested that point guard Deron Williams — not an NBA All-Star, but a member of USA Basketball's gold medal-winning Olympics team last summer — wasn't shown enough respect.

"Well," Sloan said, "he shot two free throws in 42 minutes. You go figure."

Williams — who was complaining about not getting calls throughout much of the game, and who picked up his second technical foul of the season between the third and fourth quarters — deadpanned sarcastically afterward.

"I'm a rookie, man. I'm a rookie," he said. "My first season in the NBA. ... There's no superstar calls or anything, anyways. No veteran calls. There's no such thing."

PICKING SIDES: Lakers coach Phil Jackson commented Friday about the Jazz's penchant for starting road games trying to score on the side of the floor opposite their own bench, then doing the reverse for the start of the second half.

"They kept changing things up on us and they found out what worked for them," Jackson, who seems bothered by the practice more than most other opposing coaches, said with reference to the Jazz's rally bid after the break. "They played in front of their bench in the second half, and I think that helps them offensively as a ballclub."

HE SAID IT: Jackson, addressing a late-game 3-pointer by Jazz center Mehmet Okur that denied Lakers fans free food that comes with a Jack In the Box fast-food promotion when L.A. wins and holds opponents to fewer than 100 points: "The only thing I'm disappointed about is that we didn't get tacos for our fans. It bothers me. Our defense should've done better. It's not about the tacos. It's about our defense."

HE SAID IT II: Lakers star Kobe Bryant, on the Jazz: "I think (with) the style of basketball that they play they can be in a lot of games, because they are not going to get desperate and take desperation shots to get back in the game. They are going to stay patient, and continue to execute."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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