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Utah Jazz: Boozer's touch still AWOL

Published: Saturday, April 4 2009 12:34 a.m. MDT

Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, right, goes up for a shot over Minnesota's Ryan Gomes during a game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday. The Jazz lost to the Timberwolves 103-102. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, right, goes up for a shot over Minnesota's Ryan Gomes during a game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday. The Jazz lost to the Timberwolves 103-102. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

Just 104 seconds into Friday evening's home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jazz star forward Carlos Boozer got to the free-throw line and made both attempts.

It was all downhill from there.

Boozer struggled mightily the rest of the night, finishing with six points on 1-of-9 shooting, and his inability to knock down baskets that he normally makes clearly hurt big-time as the Jazz suffered a devastating 103-102 loss to the lowly T-Wolves.

At one particularly rough point early in the third quarter, a chorus of boos rang down inside EnergySolutions Arena after one of Boozer's eight misses.

To his credit, however, he didn't shy away from talking about his shooting woes afterward.

"It's tough," Boozer said. "A guy like me, I'm a scorer. I'm able to hit shots from almost anywhere inside the three-point line. And to not knock them down is tough because you feel like you let your teammates down because they're shots you've hit your whole career . . . To miss 'em, you feel like you let them down.

"So for me, I'm just gonna get in the gym and get my rhythm back and make 'em next time I get 'em."

As Boozer pointed out, it wasn't all that long ago that he was shooting well from the field.

Just two games ago in Portland, Boozer went 10-of-12 from the field before being ejected in what proved to be a 125-104 loss.

He followed that up by shooting 7-of-23 against Denver on Thursday and then struggled again on Friday against Minnesota.

"Two games ago I was on fire before I got ejected when we were gettin' our butts kicked (against Portland). Last game against the Denver Nuggets I didn't play very well," said Boozer. "I've just got to get my rhythm back. It's very uncharacteristic of me."

Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson suggested that perhaps Boozer's long-term injury problems have contributed to his current shooting woes. Boozer has missed 45 total games during the 2008-09 season because of a strained left quad and then a right ankle sprain.

"It's tough for guys to come back after injury," said Johnson. "And that type of injury was hard for him to do aerobics and get his conditioning. He's trying to fast-forward this and get back with the team. It took (Jazz point guard) Deron (Williams) a long time, so I think that's part of it."

Asked how important it will be to the Jazz for Boozer to play well down the stretch, Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer said the burden of getting the job done won't lie solely on the star power forward's shoulders.

"It's not necessarily one person because I don't think the success of one player, playing well or playing bad, determines the outcome of the game," said Brewer. "I think we need a full team effort. We need to play well as a team, offensively and defensively."

"You're gonna have nights," Brewer added, "where a specific guy is off, but as long as you have a conscious effort from your team to make up for that person, you're still gonna be in the game no matter how you play."

E-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com

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