Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
HOUSTON — The Utah Jazz might consider visiting Lucy Van Pelt's psychiatric stand for their next team field trip.
Jokingly, power forward Paul Millsap suggested something along those lines might be a good option for players on the 15-14 team that has been all over the place this season.
"Maybe," he said, "we all need counseling so we can all be on that same consistent basis."
Perhaps Charlie Brown's friend can help the team find consistency and work through issues that have had the team floundering and flourishing, surging and struggling, winning and losing.
At last check, the going rate was only five cents per person — as long as the doctor was in, of course.
For now, the Jazz are feeling better about themselves, having gotten some rest, a couple of practices and a blowout win over Washington. But that one-sided victory came after successive stinkers in New Orleans and Oklahoma City, which came after a seemingly big win at Memphis, which came after a demoralizing home loss to the Thunder, which ... well, you get the point.
The team, Millsap believes, needs to work on stabilizing itself.
"To be up and then go all the way down and then go back, it takes a toll on you mentally," Millsap said. "If we can find a groove, do things on a consistent basis, we'll be fine."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has some thoughts on how the team can save ownership 70 cents in Dr. Lucy fees while getting the franchise back on a consistent winning path, including tonight in Houston.
For one thing, Corbin wants to his players to think about why they were so good Friday night while building a 28-point lead against a Wizards team that had beaten Portland earlier in the week.
"That was because our defense was really good," Corbin said. "We executed well. We were aggressive."
Defensively, he continued, the Jazz picked up the pick-and-roll early and did a good job of channeling John Wall & Co. where Utah wanted them to go. Weakside rotations flowed well.
"As a result," he pointed out, "our offense picked up."
The Jazz were able to attack, get good position when not scoring in transition and keep Washington off-balance in its defense. Cuts were sharp. Utah played its preferred inside-out game. Points in the paint were abundant (70 points).
"It just fuels each other," Corbin said.
Point guard Devin Harris, who had one of his better games with a season-high nine assists Friday, teasingly thanked a reporter for pointing out the Jazz had lost by 26 to the Thunder while asking if that was rock bottom for the team.
The Jazz can only hope it doesn't get any worse, but Harris acknowledged that they took a cue from OKC in the way they pounced on the Wizards' weaknesses and put them away with aggressive play and effort.
Harris used a "two feet forward, one step back" phrase to describe the Jazz's journey. It's important they learn from mistakes, he said. But it's also essential for Utah to "try to limit the steps back and try to move forward as much as we can."
The emphasis now is to finish strong before this week's All-Star break. The Jazz have three games remaining before that Thursday-Monday repose, with road contests tonight and Wednesday (Minnesota) and a tough one at home Monday against San Antonio.
The key to making Friday's win a good turning point for the Jazz?
"Just keep a winning attitude, a positive attitude about things," Millsap said, "and just go out and do the best we can."
Confidence is another key factor.
"Just try to bottle that feeling that we had last night," backup forward Josh Howard added. "We haven't been playing our best ball on the road, but we've got to find some way to channel that energy from here (in Utah) onto the road."
Harris wants the Jazz to duplicate the "energy level and intensity" that they displayed Friday, but he said winning is not as easy as flipping on the effort switch. Still, he added, the Jazz need to be committed to playing hard on defense. They can control that more than they can control making shots.
If that doesn't work, they might start searching for that five-cent stand.
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