There was no ginger ale celebration in the locker room after the Jazz finished off the first undefeated preseason in club history. Instead, the predictably cautionary voice of coach Jerry Sloan reminded the press that everything changes after tonight. The 82-71 victory over the Sacramento Kings moved the Jazz to 8-0 as they wrapped up the preseason, but Sloan was quick to point out the many areas the team needs to improve (defense, defense, defense). When asked what he liked most about the preseason, his response was classic: “I liked the players we had to let go.”
In Sloan-ese, the sharpest criticism is often the highest compliment. The day-old roster cuts of Jeffers, Nichols, Gaines, and Thompson were clearly felt, and Sloan used their strong contributions as a genius opportunity to offer a compliment to the departed and a reality check to those who made the team. The preseason record may not mean anything in June, but the camaraderie and chemistry is clearly forming. With Deron Williams sitting out due to personal reasons, the Jazz relied on solid, if unspectacular, play from backup point guards Earl Watson (who started) and Ronnie Price. After the game, Price commented on the team chemistry: “We had a solid training camp. Everyone picked up the offense quickly, even the rookies and new guys. Everyone has fit into their spot from Day One. You expect the veterans to come in and know the NBA game, but for a rookie to come in and have a change of tempo, a change of lifestyle, have so many things thrown at him so fast, really shows a lot of character. It shows what kind of guys we have on this team.”
Everything that comes out of Al Jefferson’s mouth is prefaced with “The Matrix.” It’s inexplicable. He uses it as an expression of amazement, as emphasis, to show surprise. It just isn’t as catchy as a simple Whatupdoe?
Speaking of CJ, Miles left the game with sprained right ankle that seemed to give out as he attacked the basket in the second quarter. He’s officially listed as day-to-day but wasn’t in the locker room after the game.
Kyrylo Fesenko put on a show with a variety of post moves that left the crowd stunned at his display of agility and aggressiveness. On two consecutive plays in the fourth quarter he simply made his defender look silly as he bullied his way to the middle for a jump hook the first time and spun baseline for a reverse layup on the second. (As soon in the picture above.)
Ross Siler with a quick primer on more Sloan-ese:
Next game: Season opener, Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at Denver, 7:00 pm