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Utah Jazz: Team out-of-tune in loss to Hornets

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 5 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Utah's Kyle Korver, left, dives for a loose ball against New Orlean's Darren Collison at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah's Kyle Korver, left, dives for a loose ball against New Orlean's Darren Collison at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

From the sound of it, they couldn't do anything right.

It may not have been quite that terrible for the Jazz in a 91-87 loss to New Orleans on Monday night at sold-out EnergySolutions Arena, one in which ex-Jazz guard Devin Brown scored a career-high 30 points to help the 16-16 Hornets break a six game in-Utah losing streak.

But it sure seemed like it to some on an 18-16 Jazz club that's lost three straight and five of its last seven.

"We're not playing well together, as a team," said point guard Deron Williams, who sprained and bruised his right wrist in a hard fourth-quarter fall to the floor. "We don't have that same continuity, that same consistency, that we've had in the past. It just seems like we're not together right now.

"We're not taking the right shots. We're passing when we're not supposed to, not passing when we're supposed to," Williams added after a 17-point, 11-dish double-double that included his 3,000 career assist. "So, it's been frustrating."

Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan instructs his team during a game against the Hornets at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan instructs his team during a game against the Hornets at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

How much so?

"The frustration level, I don't think you can really even gauge where it is right now. It's as high as it can be," swingman C.J. Miles said.

"We're confident in what we do," added Miles, who scored all eight of Utah's points — including two 3-pointers — in the final two minutes. "I think it's more the frustration that makes it hard to get any confidence. It's frustrating that some of the things we do well, we're not doing so well right now."

Utah's energy level — decidedly lacking in a 10-point loss to Denver on Saturday night — was higher.

But from dribbling too much at times to not making good cuts to the basket and failing to finish as well, not to mention an inability to withstand the Hornets' defensive pressure, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan wasn't particularly thrilled with what he saw.

Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams is defended by New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul during a game at EnergySolutions Arena Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams is defended by New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul during a game at EnergySolutions Arena Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

Especially not after New Orleans used an 11-0 run shortly after halftime to take the third quarter 25-11 — only a buzzer-beating bank by Williams saved Utah from an eight-point period — and head into the fourth up seven at 69-62.

"They came with lot more ammunition in the second half than we had to stand up to them," Sloan said.

The Jazz did have the game tied at 79 with less than four-minutes to go.

But New Orleans never allowed Utah to take a lead in the final quarter, and most Jazz hopes were dashed when — with the Hornets up 86-82, and 45.9 seconds remaining — point Chris Paul claimed a Williams pass intended for Andrei Kirilenko.

"That was just a bad pass by me," Williams said.

Paul took advantage of a pick on Williams to drive for a layup with 27 seconds left that made it 88-82 New Orleans, leaving Sloan to bemoan just how much the speedy Hornets point — despite starting 0-for-7 from the field — hurt the Jazz.

Utah's Deron Williams, left, is defended by New Orlean's Chris Paul during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah's Deron Williams, left, is defended by New Orlean's Chris Paul during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

"Our big people couldn't get up enough to give support to the point guard out there trying to guard him. =8A He cripples our big people whenever he gets past our point guard," the Jazz coach said.

And that left Sloan's team searching for ways to emerge from the paralyzing grip of its recent ineptitude.

"We've just got to regroup somehow," Williams said, with Memphis coming Wednesday to close a three-game homestand. "Get a win. It's as simple as that.

"We didn't expect be in this position this late in the season," he added. "I thought we'd be playing our best basketball come this time, not regressing."

Sloan, though, remains hopeful of a turnaround — "if we stay together."

"If we get in a situation where we don't stay together and start going at each other," he said, "then that becomes very difficult to overcome."

Utah's Carlos Boozer, center, scores over New Orlean's Darius Songaila, left, and David West at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah's Carlos Boozer, center, scores over New Orlean's Darius Songaila, left, and David West at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday. The Hornets won 91-87. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

The Jazz, Sloan and others know, have been here before.

"We've had moments like that in previous years I've been here when we've had to circle the wagons and fight for each other," forward Carlos Boozer said after an 18-point, 14-rebound double-double. "Our fans are on our ass and sometimes we deserve it. But at the same time I think we can pull together.

"Whether it's us against the world, that's how it is. Whether we're in our own building or somewhere else, we've got to do a job of believing in each other, fighting for each other.

They don't know what we go through, they don't know our schedule, how hard we work. We've got to work harder just to get the win. I mean it's not easy to win in this league."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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