As he checked out of the lineup during the Jazz's loss at San Antonio last Friday night, Jerry Sloan chided C.J. Miles.

"Way too soft on the defensive end," Sloan told the youngster.

Afterward, Sloan was a little less direct.

"I need to find somebody who wants to step out there and play — and I thought he played pretty well," the Jazz coach said. "He did a couple crazy things, and lost his feet, but ... it wasn't just him."

Miles, taking his turn on the merry-go-round that is the Jazz's search for a full-time backup shooting guard, tried to heed Sloan's words the next night in Dallas.

"Right now, for what I'm in the game to do, I think I'm doing a good job of it," he said after logging 20 minutes and scoring two points in Utah's loss to the Mavericks. "I'm in there to, of course, defend — because if I wasn't defending we both know I wouldn't be in the game.

"And I think (Saturday) I was really trying to defend. Especially at first, I was real active," Miles added. "They were more aware of me in the second half. They weren't loose with the ball. But I stayed in front of my man, and tried to really play guys ... because I think against (San Antonio's Manu) Ginobili I danced around too much."

Miles spent the early part of the season as something of a wallflower, but after veteran Gordan Giricek and combo guard Ronnie Price both got looks behind starter Ronnie Brewer it's his turn now.

"He's a young kid," Sloan said of Miles, who is in his third NBA season straight out of Dallas' Skyline High School — and who still, believe it or not, is just 20 years old. "We have to find out if he wants to play, or get better, or what.

"He didn't play in the summer league (because of contract issues), and didn't have that going for him. So, I'll try to give him some playing time and see if he can get better."

Sloan, whose 13-8 Jazz are off until facing Portland on Tuesday, said he simply wants Miles to "make shots, run our offense, try to play some defense."

Undaunted by the notion of contributing offensively, an appreciative Miles therefore will try to make his mark defensively.

"I didn't get as many looks (Saturday) as (Friday), but, at the same time, they were aware of me. They didn't help off. If my man left, somebody else rotated to me," Miles said. "You could hear (Dallas coach) Avery (Johnson) scream from the bench, 'Get up on him' when I caught the ball.

"Everybody knows I can shoot the ball," he added. "I want to show that if I'm not shooting well I can stay on the floor."

Doing so means being prepared to play, whether he knows he's going to or not.

And that's no small task.

In a game late last month against the Los Angeles Lakers, with Utah's lineup injury-impacted, Miles played reserve-role nine minutes. He didn't even dress for the Jazz's next game, and dressed but didn't play for the one after that. Then he got the call in San Antonio and wound up shooting 3-of-5 from the field to lead the Jazz's bench scoring with eight points.

"I found a median in there," Miles said of his pre-game preparation, "where I can do enough (that) I get in a good workout in in case I don't play enough."

And if he does play, he's ready, he hopes, with energy.

"If I keep playing solid, not turning the ball over, and stay within the offense, and (play) on the defensive end, I think I'll keep getting minutes," Miles said. "That's what he (Sloan) has always stressed to me — that the defensive end is the biggest part of my game I need to work on.

"I think as long as I do that, I can stay on the court," he added. "The shooting will be just the plus side after that, if I can become a good defender."

OW: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Mavs' Johnson said Sunday that Sloan, heeding NBA demands to wear a microphone and an accompanying transmission pack during Friday's ESPN-televised game against the Spurs, "said he was actually injured by the device ... Sloan slipped during the game, fell on his back, landed on the transmitter and told Johnson he had back spasms all night ... When Sloan arrived (Saturday) at (Dallas') American Airlines Center, he got a massage to try and reduce some of the pain."

A Jazz spokesman confirmed that on Friday Sloan did wear a small microphone pack that was attached to his belt.

HE SAID IT: Ex-Jazz guard DeShawn Stevenson of the Wizards, explaining to the Washington Post why he buys deodorant from Costco in bulk five-packs: "In case I lose one, so I won't be musty."


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