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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Morning shootaround: Finding energy, purpose down the stretch

In the locker room after last night's loss to Detroit, we heard a lot of the things that we've heard after losses this year — in particular, this late-season variation on a theme, from Richard Jefferson.

"When you're playing a lot of young guys [heavy] minutes … toward the end, they start to get tired mentally, physically, emotionally. We're showing every sign of that."

Jefferson defended himself and his teammates, saying that everyone came early, stayed late, watched film, got up shots, etc. The veteran forward called it part of a maturation process for the club.

The young guys have certainly logged more minutes than ever before. (Trey Burke's numbers from last year are obviously from Michigan.)

Last night, the Jazz didn't make shots. As Salt City Hoops boss Andy B. Larsen points out, they didn't make shots even when they were open. Over the last five games, Utah is only shooting 36.5 percent on uncontested shots, according to SportsVU.

Whether you want to buy the unquantifiable energy/focus reason as the cause for last night's struggles is up to you. As much as the Jazz lack energy, finding purpose might be even more important. And I would say this: for as much talk as there's been about playing out the season as if each game still mattered, it's going to be much easier said than done.

2. On a positive note, Gordon Hayward was terrific at times. He finished with 32 points (the third time this season he's scored at least 30 in a game) and handed out six assists. Hayward's ability to facilitate might be his best quality.

[Vine by Cody Powers]

While the Jazz as a whole struggle, Hayward is having one of his best months of the season.

3. Alec Burks watched the game next to player development coaches Johnnie Bryant and Alex Jensen. The guards left foot was still in a walking boot yesterday, but he was able to run some during shootaround and coach Ty Corbin believes he'll be ready to play soon.

4. The Lakers and Celtics were idle last night, so the Jazz moved up slightly in the lottery race. If the drawing were today, the Jazz would have the fourth-best shot at the No. 1 pick.

The Lakers host the Knicks tonight.

5. Clicks

Orange County Register: Our friend Bill Oram has a great read on the worst Lakers team ever.

AP: It was a "tough" day for former NBAer Quinton Ross, whose death was incorrectly reported by the New York Post.

— Aaron Falk

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