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Jazz's Sloan breaks down pick-and-roll defense — 'Biggest cop out in basketball'

Sacramento, Calif. — While Jazz guard Deron Williams would not discuss Utah's pick-and-roll defense this morning, coach Jerry Sloan offered several ideas following a shootaround at Arco Arena. In fact, Sloan was so passionate about the issue that he accidentally knocked a recorder out of a reporter's hand while displaying how to defend the play.

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Sloan on Williams' and Raja Bell's recent comments about defending the pick-and-roll, and how the Jazz guard against the play: We have about five different ways we try to play it. That's like anything else. If you don't put your heart into it you don't come away with anything. After having played and been involved with it all the years, it's always interested to see how things get started. It's always somebody else's fault. Instead of stepping up and saying, 'Hey, I did a [crappy] job trying to defend the pick-and-roll.' Because effort is what you have to have. You can't go into with the idea that you're not going to have to work very hard. You can't be afraid of getting banged around some, because some guys set some pretty mean screens.

Jazz players not being aggressive enough defending the play during a home loss Saturday to Oklahoma City: A lot of times, though, we got beat off the dribble. Times that we got beat off the dribble is as important to me as getting beat in the pick-and-roll. If you can't stay between your man and the basket, then you're going to find a real problem. That's the No. 1 thing. Before you start anything: When you start in grade school, staying between your man and the basket. Then when you get to high school you run pick-and-rolls.

More important to recognize play as it's happening or react quickly once it occurs: Well, I'd say you better get ready for it. A lot of guys get caught with their knees locked, not even ready to defend, and then a guy comes up and whacks you with the pick-and-roll and throws you off balance, and now you can't guard anybody in that position. You better get yourself ready to do your homework before it's time to really get after it. You better get yourself ready. Because people will come up and screen you and nail you, and that's what you got hands for. [Extends arms] … You see what I'm saying? That's where you learn to play against the pick-and-roll. … That's the first thing that I'm going to do if I've got my back to the basket, and somebody comes up and they come around. Am I going to say, 'Oh, wow. I got screened?' " That's the biggest cop out in basketball. 'I got screened.' Don't allow yourself to be screened. If you got screened, that means you're standing there, not moving, trying to take the guy on; or back off of him, and you just stand there and play that way. Yeah, hell, I could screen you. When you're losing games, all those things come to the forefront.

Bell's comment that it might be too late in the season for the Jazz to become a good pick-and-roll defensive team: No. I think effort has to be there to make pick-and-rolls better defensively. We played against teams, and they didn't really come up and get themselves involved and didn't get after it. John [Stockton] was a pretty good pick-and-roll player, and Karl [Malone] was a pretty good player who played with him. But we were able to play enough of that stuff, and over the years have some idea of how to play it. Sure, there's going to be somebody that breaks your philosophy that you can't deal with, so you try a few other things to try to go to. But when none of them work — I went to zone; that didn't work. When you don't get the effort, nothing's going to work. That's all I've ever known or seen in this game. To play the pick-and-roll, it's sometimes pretty tough because of screens and stuff. That's the way life is.

— Brian T. Smith

Twitter: tribjazz

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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