DENVER — On the eve of leaving the team to mourn the death of his older brother Buck Sloan, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan waxed philosophical.

The topic: loss.

"You've got to learn to deal with problems that come up in your life from Day 1," Sloan said. "My dad passed away when I was 4 years old, and you know those things are going to happen on down the line. ... Things we don't like. But there's a lot learned from that. I learned more in those times about what goes on, and how things are set in life.

"I got fired (as coach of the Chicago Bulls). ... I lost my wife (Bobbye, to cancer), and, you know, you go on about your life. I lost my dad. All those things — there's something positive. Maybe it makes you work a little harder, and makes you appreciate what you have a little bit more. I don't know. Simple things."

Charles "Buck" Sloan, 80, passed away early Tuesday morning at a hospital in Evansville, Ind. He will be buried Saturday afternoon in the Sloan family's hometown of McLeansboro, Ill.

The retired Alcoa Aluminum maintenance worker served as a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He also was a farmer, an avid fisherman and a former coroner in Hamilton County, Ill.

Jerry Sloan worked Thursday's late-starting game at Denver but will not coach tonight's home game against Minnesota.

He is expected to rejoin the Jazz in time for their game Sunday game at New Orleans.

Assistant Phil Johnson will coach in Sloan's place tonight, as he always does when the longtime Jazz coach is absent.

This will be the 16th game Sloan has missed since he took over as coach in Utah during the 1988-89 season. The Jazz are 9-6 during that span, including a November win over the Los Angeles Clippers when he stayed home due to the flu.

HALL POSSIBILITIES: Sloan said he still had not learned as of Thursday if he'd been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

He and retired Jazz point guard John Stockton, who is widely considered a lock to make it, are finalists.

Selections will be made public Monday.

Even if he's chosen, though, Sloan will not be present for the announcement.

"And that's not a reflection on them," Sloan said Thursday of hall officials. "I have other concerns that are more important at this stage."

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MILES STARTS: Veteran Matt Harpring got the start at small forward over C.J. Miles for the second half of last Tuesday night's loss at Portland, but Miles was back in the opening lineup for Thursday's game at Denver.

"I thought about (starting Harpring Thursday)," Sloan said. "But, you know, we've got a long ways to go. We'll try to hang in there a bit and see what happens.

"That (Portland) game — we had a lot of people struggling in the game, and I think that had a lot to do with it."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com