As they rang in 2008 on Monday with a New Year's Eve win over Portland, the Jazz also said goodbye to an absolutely awful December with a grandiose Chuck Barris-brand gong.

The month was so bad for Utah, Carlos Boozer wants to forget it altogether.

"We aren't going to look back at December," the Jazz's leading scorer and rebounder said, "but we're looking forward to '08 and January."

Unfortunately for Boozer, only a peek at what was can lend proper perspective to what his sad-act team hopes will be.

The Jazz went into December 12-5.

They came out of it 17-16, having gone 5-11 overall and 1-9 on the road during what arguably was one of the most ridiculous months in franchise history.

Utah's schedule during the span was so tough, even Jazz coach Jerry Sloan — who normally chastises those tempted to whine about such frivolity — was moved to grumble.

"It's kind of interesting," Sloan said after beating the Trail Blazers at EnergySolutions Arena. "How many games have we played back-to-back (on consecutive nights) in this building?"

Uh, none — not all season long.

Even the Jazz's homestands — until their current one, a three-game stay that concludes with tonight's meeting with Philadelphia — were limited to no more than two games throughout both November and December.

Not until they lost Saturday to Boston and won Monday against Portland, in fact, were any two of the Jazz's 16 December games played without a road trip of some sort in between.

"Now, obviously," Sloan said, "a lot of people who understand the game better than I do will tell you that that takes a lot out of you — regardless of what you try to tell them.

"Sometimes," he added, "you need to have a little breather when you are at home. We've played (home) games and gone right back out again. That's ... difficult to do, especially with a younger group of guys."

No wonder Boozer and the band are looking forward to this month, one in which the Jazz play nine at home and just four on the road — and each of the four comes on only a one-game trip.

They even have a four-game homestand in January, after which — including their last two December games — the Jazz will have played seven of eight at EnergySolutions.

"We're looking forward to having some home cooking," Boozer said. "You know, every team loves to play at home — and we are one of those teams that does a lot better at home.

"Obviously our (6-13) road record doesn't speak highly of us," he added. "We know we're a better home team than anything else, so we're looking forward to taking advantage of what we do have at home. And we're gonna need to take advantage of it, so we can get back in the playoffs."

During their dismal December, the Jazz fell not only out of the lead in the NBA's Northwest Division but also — as things stand today — out of the Western Conference postseason picture altogether.

But with a strong run in January — which includes eight of 13 games against teams that have losing records, including Philadelphia, Indiana, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Houston, New York and two against the Los Angeles Clippers — they hope to work their way back into something more closely resembling the Western Conference finalists they were a season ago.

"It always equals out," Sloan said, "and if we get ourselves ready to play, and see where we are, and everybody's on the same page, that will be the important thing.

"If," that is, he hastened to add, "we don't get kind of sideways as to how many points everybody needs to make and how many shots we get."

But if the latter were to happen, either Jaye P. Morgan or Jamie Farr surely would be reaching to bang the bell.

Right, Chuck?

Happy new year

A look at two decidedly different months for the Jazz:

December

Home games: 6

Road games: 10

January

Home games: 9

Road games: 4

Jazz January schedule

Jan. 2: vs. Sixers, 7 p.m.

Jan. 5: at Blazers, 8 p.m.

Jan. 8: vs. Pacers, 7 p.m.

Jan. 10: vs. Suns, 8:30 p.m.

Jan. 12: vs. Magic, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14: vs. Bucks, 7 p.m.

Jan. 17: at Nuggets, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18: vs. Clippers, 7 p.m.

Jan. 21: at Clippers, 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 25: vs. Kings, 7 p.m.

Jan. 27: at Rockets, 5 p.m.

Jan. 28: vs. Spurs, 7 p.m.

Jan. 30: vs. Knicks, 7 p.m.


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