Utah Jazz: Changes still not expected

Published: Monday, April 13 2009 12:21 a.m. MDT

Promising change was a wise political move for President Barack Obama.

When it comes to tinkering with his reeling roster, however, Jerry Sloan isn't sure he's ready to make that type of political statement.

The Jazz coach has mulled changes, but he still isn't sure if employing that strategy at this late stage in the season will help as the team campaigns to bust out of its wins recession.

Sloan did adjust his lineup for the second half of the Golden State debacle — inserting Matt Harpring for C.J. Miles in the small forward spot. But that move didn't exactly pan out as Utah went on to lose its third straight game, and Sloan said he isn't too interested in making more moves for now.

"Well, I don't know we'd change," Sloan said after Saturday's stinging 118-108 loss that solidified the Jazz's stranglehold on the No. 8 spot in the West. "When I look and see who we are, and what they've done, who do I change?

"I can," he added, "take guys that haven't played and start them, I guess."

That's not to suggest a starting lineup of Brevin Knight, Ronnie Price, Kyrylo Fesenko, Kosta Koufos and Morris Almond tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. Sloan, of course, was being sarcastic in his response.

But he admitted the coaches "discuss every day" about potential player rotation shifts, including, as he's previously talked about, reinserting Paul Millsap into the starting lineup for the inconsistent-of-late Carlos Boozer.

"(But) as soon as you change, at this stage of the season, many times it's a change out of panic," he said. "I don't think I'm panicked. I just feel like we can play better, and I have to figure out some way to try to get us to play better."

DEFENSIVE CHANGE?: More than tweaking the lineup, the Jazz believe real change is needed on defense to snap out of their funk. Utah, which has been slow to defend 3-point shooters and Charmin soft inside, has allowed opponents to average 115.8 points in its past six losses.

"We're just not helping each other out, not rotating," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said, "and the effort's not there."

That included giving up 130 to Dallas last week and 118 to the Warriors on Saturday.

"That's kind of a little tough to take sometimes," Sloan said.

"We're not as good defensively as we should be. That's my responsibility," Sloan added. "It all comes back to me. I don't defend, I don't guard people, but that's my job."

That job now, he explained, trying "to get more out of it, some way, somehow. Maybe try to change." Otherwise, the Jazz could have a few more weeks of vacation than they'd previously planned.

The problem that might make him go against his preferred no-change policy is that he believes the Jazz are "not getting everybody to compete hard." That makes his job all the more challenging.

"If we don't get everybody to play hard, it's pretty tough to win. It's just a little tough, sometimes to accept that," Sloan said. "If I didn't care, it wouldn't be a big deal. But it eats your guts out when it's all said and done."

Even worse is when the changes he makes don't result in improved effort. He says he handles those situations better than when he began coaching, but it's still hard to swallow.

"When the game's going on," he said, "and you have guys that aren't competing, and you think, 'I'll put this guy in the game, that guy in the game,' and you don't get much more — yeah, you get concerned."

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