Jazz not looking ahead to road trip SALT LAKE CITY ? There was much talk among Jazz players Saturday night about their upcoming pre-Christmas trip, a five-game Eastern Conference swing that opens Wednesday at New Jersey. Not from swingman Ronnie Brewer, though. He hasn't forgotten that the three-win Minnesota Timberwolves, who visit EnergySolutions Arena tonight, beat Utah 108-101 just nine nights ago. "We've still got one more game before we go out there," Brewer said when asked about the trip. "So I think we've got some unfinished business we need to take care of with Minnesota ? and then we've got a tough road trip when we can't take any team lightly." Tonight ends a stretch of 11 of 14 home games for the Jazz , who've won seven straight at EnergySolutions Arena. After tonight, Utah plays seven of eight on the road. THE DIFFERENCES: Brewer offered a telling response when asked about the difference between Saturday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers and a road loss Wednesday to the Lakers in which Utah yielded a 20-0 fourth-quarter run and scored just six final-period points. "I think in L.A. we were taking shots, quick shots, jump shots, and we were missing, and they were leading to fastbreaks," he said. "Once you miss shots, and they're long-rebounding and fastbreaking, you get down real quick ? and I think that's what we did. Kind of hit the panic button. "But (Saturday) we were composed. ... We didn't lose focus." FULL FOURTH: Point guard Deron Williams ? who played the entire fourth quarter Saturday, something he doesn't always do ? offered additional insight. "I didn't really want to let (the Lakers) get on a run, because that's what they did the last game, so I kind of wanted to be aggressive," he said after scoring nine of his game-high 21 points in the fourth. "I was glad Coach (Jerry Sloan) put me back in so early," Williams added. "You know, sometimes he doesn't put me back in until the eight and nine-minute mark ? so I was happy." On Wednesday, Williams didn't return until 9:08 remained in the fourth ? and the Lakers were six points into their 20-0 run. ROSTER ISSUES: Good news for the Jazz was that Saturday, for the first time this season, they dressed 12 healthy players. But there's a downside. "Yeah, but I can't remember all their names," Sloan joked. That's not all, though. If backup small forward Andrei Kirilenko returns tonight from a strained back that's kept him out for five straight games and six of seven, Sloan will have 13 healthy players available ? and only 12 active-roster spots. If that happens, one possible solution would be making reserve big Kosta Koufos inactive. Koufos has dressed but not played (coach's decision) nine times this season. He's also a candidate to be assigned to their NBA Development League-affiliate Utah Flash, perhaps before leave Tuesday for the pre-Christmas trip. After playing host to Idaho tonight, though, the Orem-based Flash have just two games before Christmas ?Dec. 20 and 22, both at Dakota. Koufos' agent, Ohio-based Mark Termini, was in town Saturday and seen talking with Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor. LONG HOURS: The Jazz didn't practice Sunday, but it wasn't an off day for assistant coaches Tyrone Corbin and Scott Layden or trainer Gary Briggs. All three worked with players including combo guard Ronnie Price, who said the trio has been instrumental in his return from a toe/foot injury that cost him 15 straight games. "Ty Corbin and Coach Layden have been helpful for me to get through this, putting me through workouts on the days off," Price said. "I'm thankful those guys have worked me out, kind of kept me in shape, and of course the treatments with Briggs have been great, so it's been a fast recovery, faster than what it could have been." HE SAID IT: Lost amid Charles Barkley's critical comments about Jazz forward Carlos Boozer following Thursday's win over Orlando was this one from fellow TNT commentator/NBA retiree Chris Webber: "Out of all the years Sloan has had this team, this is the first year you would say this doesn't look like a Jerry Sloan team." The comment curiously came after Utah had won for the ninth time in 12 games. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!