LOS ANGELES — After his Jazz were whupped in Sunday's Game 1, coach Jerry Sloan made the challenge in no uncertain terms.
He feels, in so many words, that they're far too soft.
"We're not a nasty team," Sloan said after a 113-100 loss at the start of a first-round playoff series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"You know, most of the teams that we've had (previously in Utah) have been pretty nasty — and they will get after you from daylight until dark. We're just learning how to get after it a little bit more as we go along with younger guys.
"And part of that's my fault," he added. "I take full responsibility for that, because I haven't been, probably, nasty enough with them."
Lakers star Kobe Bryant wasn't surprised to hear the call to arms, NBA-style.
"I'm a game connoisseur, so I know how nasty Sloan was when he was playing. Pardon my French, but your a-- would get kicked out of the league if you played that physical nowadays," he said to many laughs in a postgame media interview room. "But it's always a staple of his teams to be physical and to play hard — and Utah, the team now's no different. I think he'll use it as a motivational tool to get his team to play harder."
Bryant made the case that Sunday's second half — when Utah cut what had been a 22-point Laker halftime lead to as few as nine on three different occasions — reflected more of what he knows Sloan likes and the Jazz typically prefer.
"Anytime you get to the (free-throw) line it stops the momentum. It doesn't enable us to get out in transition, get momentum, build up our lead," he said of a half in which the Lakers attempted 18 freebies. "It just stops the game — and that's exactly the style of basketball that they play.
"The game just became a muck, and that's exactly the style of basketball that they play," he added. "But we did a good job. They kept knocking at the door, and we just didn't let them in."
For Sloan, though, that wasn't nearly enough.
"Do you know," he asked, "how late we were so many times in trying to get over and give help and try to stand guys up and play the game where you don't let them run with a tuxedo on all the time?
"That's something we have to learn to do."
The call was heard, at least by one.
"I think we definitely have it," point guard Deron Williams said when asked about the Jazz's so-called "nastiness." "I don't think we've showcased it this year.
"It's a mentality we have that we haven't brought out," he added, "and we do have to get it if we want to win this series."