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Utah Jazz notebook: Defense getting picked apart by pick-and-rolls

Published: Thursday, Jan. 20 2011 10:31 p.m. MST

Utah\'s Raja Bell and Deron Williams as the Jazz host the Atlanta Hawks at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on  Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News) Utah\'s Raja Bell and Deron Williams as the Jazz host the Atlanta Hawks at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

BOSTON — After Wednesday's shocker, Raja Bell and Deron Williams both lamented about the Jazz's inability to defend the pick-and-roll.

And, yes, that does sound odd considering all of the problems this franchise has given others with that offensive ploy over the decades.

But D-Will said it's been a weakness of Utah's for five seasons now.

"That's not been just the year. It's been years' past. Since I've been here we've been a bad pick-and-roll team," Williams said. "Guys just come off and go down the lane. We can't figure out what we want to do."

He also said some players will be in one particular pick-and-roll defense while other guys play a different one.

Confusion leads to points for opponents.

Bell said the Jazz players are pretty good at playing their own man, but suggested the team loses ground quickly and gives up oodles of offense when it comes to helping out.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan recalled some struggles on pick-and-roll defense during the Stockton-to-Malone era, too.

But he said it turned around after a particular poor road trip back East when Stockton's guys averaged more than 30 points in five games.

"Fortunately, the guys got together and we talked about it a little bit," Sloan said. "We've got to do a better job defending. Defense, you have to do your job first before you start throwing stones at somebody else."

BOTTOMED OUT?: They have suffered embarrassing losses in consecutive outings to Washington and New Jersey.

But Bell scoffed at the idea that this is as low as it gets.

"Rock bottom? No ... this is basketball. We play basketball for a living," Bell said. "Rock bottom is far from here, brother."

Bell conceded that these losses were hard to take, but he kept his perspective on the rock-bottom concept.

"It's not a good place to be as a team right now," he added. "But rock bottom? Absolutely not."

DANGER AHEAD: Center Al Jefferson took Wednesday's loss particularly hard, speaking very softly and somberly during a short postgame interview.

Though the Jazz have already won more than his Minnesota team did all of last season when the T-Wolves went 15-67, Big Al doesn't like the direction the 27-15 Jazz are headed.

This rough spell is especially disconcerting because of the games that are coming up against Boston tonight and a back-to-back against the Lakers in Los Angeles (Tuesday) and at home vs. San Antonio.

"No disrespect to Washington or New Jersey," Jefferson said, "but these are two teams we're supposed to beat easily. The way we're playing right now is not good, but we have a tough stretch coming up and cannot play the way we have."

COACH SPEAK: Sloan after saying he thought his team played without much energy in Wednesday's 103-95 loss to the Nets: "You can't play the game lackadaisical because the other team will kick your butt."

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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