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Utah Jazz notebook: Team searching for energy in homestand

Published: Monday, Jan. 4 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY —Not even the start of a three-game homestand at EnergySolutions Arena could solve the Jazz's weekend energy issues.

Because Utah, coach Jerry Sloan suggested after watching film of Saturday's debacle, simply lacked vigor in a 10-point loss to Denver.

"It looked like we were trying to get through it, instead of trying to compete through it," Sloan said. "There's a big difference."

Sloan cited a rigorous schedule of late, with Saturday marking the Jazz's first home game following 7-of-8 on the road.

"There was not a lot of life in our players," he said "So I would have to say, in all fairness to them, we've been on the road for a good period of time, and maybe their energy is off.

"That's what I'm relying on, rather that saying 'Well, I don't think they don't care.' You know, that sort of thing."

Like Saturday, though, point guard Deron Williams wasn't buying the schedule explanation Sunday.

Or citing the holidays.

"You can't blame it on New Year's," he said, "because I don't think anybody did anything."

Williams did concede, though, that travel takes a toll.

"Some people don't understand," he said.

"It is tiring, it is draining, to be on the road for that long and travel to cities, get in at 2, 3 in the morning, not be able to go to sleep until 4, 5 in the morning, and you have to get up that next day and perform.

"But it's still our job," Williams added.

"We're not the only team that's having to do those things."

WISE WORDS: Williams had advice Sunday for the likes of swingman C.J. Miles, who sat in Saturday's first half after apparent poor shot selection.

"I just try to tell them you can't worry about getting pulled out of the game," Williams said. "You know, I've been there. My rookie year, some games I'd start, the next game I wouldn't play, the next game I'd play 30 (minutes), the next game I'd play two, didn't know why.

"Coach (Sloan) is not the type of guy who's going to come and talk to you and tell you anything, really. You've just got to kind of figure it for yourself. So I just tell them, if you feel like they're good shots, keep shooting them. You know, what can you do?"

DEFENSIVE DOLTS: Williams and Sloan did agree on one thing Sunday, when the Jazz prepped for tonight's game vs. New Orleans.

"Our transition defense was terrible," Williams said. "We didn't get back and stop guys, we allowed too many easy baskets, too many layups."

Said Sloan: "We're getting killed defensively with easy baskets. Our transition defense is about as bad as I've ever seen since I've been here. I mean, if we get back and get set up defensively we're not too bad. But I had a combination of people that couldn't get back defensively. They'd take a tough shot, couldn't get back. They'd turn the ball over, couldn't get back."

TRADE TALK: The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Sunday that "veteran shooting guard Morris Peterson has been out of the rotation since Jeff Bower took over coaching duties for (fired) Byron Scott last month, and his future with the franchise is uncertain because he could be traded before next month's deadline."

The Times-Picayune also reported that "backup center Hilton Armstrong also has lost his spot in Bower's rotation because of inconsistent play. With his inability to fill expectations, Armstrong could be another player the Hornets could be looking to trade."

The Jazz bid for Peterson before he signed with the Hornets, and Armstrong worked out for Utah in his draft year.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor suggested Saturday he's spoken with multiple teams about trade possibilities and could make a deal as soon as Tuesday, but it's unknown if New Orleans is a team with which he's talked.

MISC.: All 12 Jazz players practiced Sunday, including Williams, who missed Saturday's morning shootaround with "stomach flu." ... Williams needs eight assists to become the fourth player to dish 3,000 or more while with the Jazz, joining All-Stars John Stockton (15,806), Karl Malone (5,085) and Rickey Green (4,159). ... Ex-Jazz shooting guard Morris Almond scored 34 for Springfield in an NBA Development League loss to Iowa last Friday.

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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