SALT LAKE CITY — Carlos Boozer, usually one to smile and joke with teammates while warming up before practices, was in a rather somber mood before Tuesday's team workout.
The Utah Jazz's current slump is weighing heavily on the power forward's mind.
"I'm frustrated. I think we have a lot more capability on this team," Boozer said the morning after a disappointing 91-87 home loss to New Orleans. "I think we have a group of guys that can compete for a title, and right now we're not looking like that team."
The 18-16 Jazz, rather, are looking an awful lot — emphasis on awful — like a lottery team that they're currently positioned to become.
Boozer says the Jazz, who've lost five of seven games, need to focus on execution, taking care of the ball, making good passes, being unselfish and playing defense.
Other than that, though, Utah's doing great.
Change, Boozer believes, must start with each player.
"Individually, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and try to dig out every ounce of passion and energy that we have," Boozer said. "And collectively we've got to do the same thing. We've got to do whatever it takes to win the games."
It encourages Boozer that the Jazz are only three games out of the lead in the Northwest Division despite their recent slide.
"We have an opportunity," Boozer said, "to jump right back into this thing if we can come together, fight together, pull together and if we can win ... and I think we can. I believe in us."
He certainly isn't alone in that thought pattern.
"It's tough, but still we've got to stay positive and continue to come out and play basketball every day," Paul Millsap said. "I don't think it's anything teams are doing to us. I think we're just killing ourself."
Added C.J. Miles: "It's going to come back around. We're not going to play like this forever."
D-WILL INJURY: Deron Williams is a game-time decision against Memphis tonight after missing practice Tuesday with a bruised and sprained right wrist.
X-rays taken at EnergySolutions Arena right after Monday's game came back negative. The point guard, listed as day-to-day, underwent an MRI on his sore wrist Tuesday, with results expected today.
Williams injured himself while crashing to the hardwood on his arm after making a layup in the fourth quarter.
STATE OF JAZZ SPEECH: Perhaps hoping to assuage a grumbling fanbase, Jazz CEO Greg Miller expressed his feelings and frustrations about the squad's struggles and stressed the commitment his family and organization have to put "a competitive team on the floor — a team fans can be proud of" on his blog.
Miller believes the Jazz as assembled have enough talent to win and pointed out that the organization isn't going to pursue a trade just to do something.
"Knee jerk changes have never been a recipe for success," Miller wrote Tuesday.
"As a Jazz fan," Miller concluded, "I am frustrated with some of the losses of late. But I'm not ready to throw in the towel. I am committed to doing all I can to support the team, as I hope Jazz fans everywhere are. I hope fans are with us for the long haul."
Go to deseretnews.com/blog/sports for a link to Miller's full pensive pondering.
MAILMAN DELIVERS GUN OP-ED: Karl Malone, the former Jazz great and current National Rifle Association spokesman, wrote a guest editorial for Sports Illustrated about the firearm controversy sparked when Washington's Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton allegedly pulled unloaded guns on each other during an argument.
Malone wasn't amused by what Arenas claimed was "a misguided effort to play a joke" and called the incident "one of the worst things I've ever seen come across the TV."
Malone couldn't wrap his mind around why an NBA player would bring guns into a locker room.
"You can't tell me one good thing that can happen with a gun in an arena," Malone wrote, "but I can tell you a thousand bad things."
Malone believes NBA commissioner David Stern needs to be stern in disciplining the pair to help the league improve its reputation.
"This is nothing to be laughing about," Malone wrote. "Once again, gun owners get a bad rap. We're good people; we're not back in the Old West. ... If I seem a little fired up, I am. It's a privilege to own a firearm and I take offense when people don't handle their business the right way."