Utah Jazz: Boozer looks to get going
Jazz's all-star forward struggled often in opener
Mike Terry, Deseret News
After watching him open 1-for-11 and wind up shooting 3-for-14 in Wednesday night's season-opening loss at Denver, Deron Williams' advice to Carlos Boozer would be to simply shake it off.
"It's the only thing you can do," the Jazz point guard said.
Yet that's much easier said than done.
Though it seemed as if he was fading backward on many of his missed jumpers against the Nuggets, neither Boozer himself nor Jazz coach Jerry Sloan suggested the woes could be attributed to anything mechanical.
And while it may have looked as if he were shooting with lead weights in his Duke backpack, as a certain ESPN commercial might prompt one to wonder, it wasn't that, either.
"There's a lot of pressure on him," Sloan said of the two-time NBA All-Star who surprisingly opted against opting out of the final season of his current $68 million contract with the Jazz — then spent the summer talking publicly about how much he'd like to play for other teams.
"I mean, you can play this game for 40 years, and you can play it for 15 years, and you'll see guys have games like that, and you'll say, 'Why did it happen?' Well, I'm sure he didn't go with the idea he wanted it to happen. That's just part of basketball.
"After having played myself, I had times where I couldn't throw it in the ocean or couldn't do anything. I was awful," Sloan added.
"So what do you do about it? You've got to see if you're tough enough to get ready to go the next day, and you find out who you are in tough situations. If I'm not in great shape, I better get in better shape, if that's the case. Or if I haven't done enough shooting, to work on my shooting, then that's what I've got to do."
But Boozer — who'll be back at it tonight, when the Jazz play their 2009-10 NBA season home-opener against the Los Angeles Clippers at EnergySolutions Arena — suggested he hasn't been feeling any pressure, even in what for him is now a contract season.
"Not really at all," he said when asked after Wednesday's loss about Sloan's pressure suggestion.
"I felt like I was just out there playing, trying to make things happen, trying to be aggressive, trying to do what I can do to help our team win. I mean, look . . . Sometimes shots ain't gonna go in, but we've got to play defense, and we didn't do either."
Defensive deficiency really was on Boozer's mind Wednesday.
"I just missed them (shots) tonight," he said. "But, I mean, that wasn't what lost the game for us. We just didn't play good enough defense.
"We didn't do a good enough job helping each other," added Boozer, who'll catch a break tonight because Clippers rookie power forward Blake Griffin — the No. 1 overall selection out of the University of Oklahoma in last June's NBA Draft — is out six weeks with a stress fracture in his left kneecap. "At times, I thought we played good, and at times I thought we played poor. I think Coach echoed that."
Perhaps coincidentally — or not — Sloan also suggested certain unnamed players weren't bothering to defend if they weren't scoring on the other end.
"So, as we move forward, we'll see what happens with that," the Jazz coach said. "I'll play some guys that want to play instead of just playing guys who want to try to get numbers, because we can't win that way. We're not good enough to win if a guy's just taking shots."
Sloan readily admitted concern over the play of Boozer, who finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two turnovers in 32 minutes.
But he was hardly alone.
There was also mention of backup Paul Millsap, who had 10 points on 5-for-11 field shooting, five boards and a turnover in his 23 minutes.
"How concerned? I was very concerned. I'm concerned about Paul's game, and some of the other guys (too)," Sloan said. "You know, it's not just a one-man guy out there. ... We have to have everybody play well — and ask each guy how many times your guy drove around you."
All of which leaves Boozer with little other choice, it seems, except to shake like a quake.
"We're back home," Williams said. "Hopefully he'll get more comfortable with it."
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