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Utah Jazz unhappy with record

Published: Friday, Dec. 25 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

MIAMI — After a disappointing 2-3 pre-Christmas road trip, the Jazz celebrate today's holiday with a 16-13 record — including 5-9 on the road — that doesn't exactly shine like that new bike under the tree.

Or video game console.

Or whatever it is Santa is importing in these days.

"We think we can be a lot better than what our record shows," forward Carlos Boozer said after Wednesday's trip-ending loss at Miami.

"We should be better," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan added. "I mean, this team is a better basketball team than we've shown. You know, we got out on the road, it's like it's a chore for us to play. And we've got young guys. They've got to be tough and competitive, wherever they play."

But they're not, and that left point guard Deron Williams shaking his head over a record the Jazz didn't exactly figure they'd have on the year's most magical day.

"Not coming into the season," Williams said. "But there's a lot of basketball to be played."

Fifty-three games worth, in fact.

And the Jazz hope they use the first of those that remain — Saturday's home game vs. Philadelphia — to reverse course.

"Just forget about this one, have a good Christmas and come back," said Williams, who felt the Jazz "let one slip away" Monday in Orlando.

"Nobody likes losing," rookie Wesley Matthews added. "Everybody wants to ride that streak, when everything's clicking, and keep it going, keep it moving."

SLOAN ON OKUR: After he scored nine points and pulled down five rebounds in 29 minutes against the Heat, Sloan still was looking for more from center Mehmet Okur.

"He's got to get himself ready to go," the Jazz coach said. "I mean, I don't know what these guys do to take care of themselves and get ready to play."

Okur, for his part, said he's "not really" in rhythm lately.

He doesn't want to force things on the offensive end, but did acknowledge he needs to make a more concerted effort to get to the free-throw line and get easy baskets.

"I don't want to take any tough shots — take 15 shots, or anything like that," he said.

"I just want to win," Okur added. "I don't want to take 15, 20 shots every night, or get 20 points. I just want to play my game."

BIG FAN: Despite their recent woes, the Jazz — especially Sloan, Boozer and Williams — have a big fan in Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

"I don't know how many coaches can get NBA players to run that system, that disciplined," Spoelstra said before Wednesday's game. "It really is a joy to watch for a fan, for an avid basketball fan.

"Every year it's the same blueprint. It's a physical brand of basketball that relies on a system, relies on all five players playing together. Every year they're first or second in assists, so the ball is moving. They get layups, they get points in the paint and it's something (Sloan) demands — and the players always buy into it.

"It's great to see, because it's different players," Spoelstra added. "Different generations have run the same system. Has anybody come up with a way to stop it after 20 years? It's pretty remarkable."

Said Spoelstra on Williams and Boozer: "It's the best basketball the two of them have played. It's really remarkable what they're doing. They both are healthy right now, so they look like different players. . . . They're playing efficiently, confidently."

SLOAN ON KIRILENKO: A Russian reporter asked Sloan about Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko after Wednesday's loss in Miami, and the Jazz coach didn't hold back.

"He was an All-Star when he first started playing," Sloan said. "He hasn't played back to that level . . . His shooting has kind of dropped off.

"He gained some weight (last summer), and I thought that kind of helped him. But I think he's dropped the weight back off again.

"But Andrei gives us a guy that passes the ball," Sloan added. "We need his ability to pass the ball and do some of the things he does. We need the whole package worth."

ALUMNI UPDATE: Ex-Jazz guard Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers recently told ESPN.com he hopes to continue playing in the NBA after this season.

"The plan is to get another contract at this point," Fisher said. "I don't have any plans to retire at the end of this season."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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