LOS ANGELES — For the third consecutive game, the Utah Jazz sported a different lineup Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Small forward C.J. Miles replaced Gordon Hayward in the opening lineup after the rookie replaced usual starter Andrei Kirilenko at the 3 spot for one game (a 96-85 loss at Philadelphia).
This latest change came on the heels of a four-game losing streak back East and just in time for a brutal back-to-back that included a Staples Center showdown against the two-time-defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers and tonight's home game against the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs.
"The biggest thing I want to see is how our team responds," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Tuesday morning, explaining his starters' switch. "We've lost the last eight quarters we've played. We need to see if we can get some life and get back into this thing."
This was the first start of the season for Miles, who had settled nicely into a reserve role after previously starting and subbing during the first five years of his NBA career in Utah.
"(Coach) came to me before shootaround and said he was going to switch it up a little bit," Miles said. "I'm just going to play. I've been in every situation. I don't change the way I approach the game. I just go play."
Miles scored the Jazz's first seven points — and had a dozen by halftime — but it wasn't nearly enough to counter the surging Lakers.
While admitting his coaching staff had considered starting Miles, Sloan said before Monday's practice that he remains concerned with the 23-year-old's defense, even though he has made strides on that side of the court.
Sloan also talked about how, despite defensive struggles, Miles had continued to merit playing time so he could "ride some of his skills" while working out kinks in his game.
Before Tuesday's start, Miles had averaged 11.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 41 games off the bench this season but had dipped recently (12-for-38 shooting in last four games).
"He's struggling a little bit with all of it," Sloan said. "Hopefully, we get him going, because we need somebody to help us."
Miles has now started 127 of 297 career games. He said he'll continue to play aggressively but will "have to tone it down a bit" as far as shot selection goes, because he'll be on the court with the starters.
FAN OVERBOARD!: Utah's Hall of Fame coach said the Jazz must fight through the adversity together even if others have lost hope in this team, which has hit hard times while losing five straight.
"I told them (players) a lot of people have broken their ankles because they had fallen off the wagon," Sloan said Tuesday morning. "That's what happens, so we've just got to play basketball."
Miles said the Jazz aren't going to take a flying leap or push the proverbial panic button despite the defeats.
"We can't jump off the wagon," Miles said. "We can't decide that, OK, we're losing , I may as well get mine and just say forget it.12 comments on this story
"It's not like we're at the bottom of the totem pole," he added. "We have had a skid. It happens. We've just got to believe in what we do. Everybody knows that we can win games."
IN AND OUT: The Jazz had one backup big man back for Tuesday's game, but they lost another for the night.
Kyrylo Fesenko (upper respiratory infection) missed for the second time this season because of an illness. But Francisco Elson dressed after sitting out Saturday's game with tendinitis in his left quadriceps muscle.
Elson continues to receive treatment, including extra stretching, on his quad but it remains sore.
Said Elson: "It's just not going to go away 1-2-3."