Mysterious meeting follows Jazz loss to Boozer & Bulls
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was clearly not himself.
Normally one of the fastest coaches in the NBA to speak to the media after a win or loss, Sloan spent more than 30 minutes behind closed doors Wednesday following Utah's tough 91-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls at EnergySolutions Arena.
Once Sloan finally showed up, he appeared shaken and out of sorts.
Asked about his time spent behind close doors, Sloan was as polite as ever.
He was also honest.
Sloan said that a conversation took place between his coaching staff and general manager Kevin O'Connor. But that was all that Sloan would reveal, and he took just two questions about the issue before stating that he would then only discuss game-related matters.
"We just had some things we had to discuss, and we'll talk to you later on about that," Sloan said.
An interview request for O'Connor was denied, while a Jazz practice originally scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday was immediately canceled.
Meanwhile, Sloan and his players were left to dissect a grind-it-out loss to the Bulls (35-16), who pulled out the victory despite shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent behind the 3-point line and being outrebounded 48-41.
"It was a tough loss," said Jazz guard Deron Williams, who was held to 11 points and committed five turnovers but dished out a game-high 12 assists. "Put it on me. Because at the end of the game, I had the ball in my hands. I've gotta make the plays to win the game. Two [late] turnovers not characteristic for me. Put it on me."
Al Jefferson topped Utah (31-23) with 26 points, while Paul Millsap added 20 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Derrick Rose scored a game-high 29 points for the Bulls.
Current Chicago and ex-Jazz forward Carlos Boozer received major pregame hype. But Boozer was less than impressive and almost inconsequential during his return to Salt Lake City, scoring 14 points on just 6-of-16 shooting and often allowing the ball to either slip or be poked out of his hands.
Boozer acknowledged that he "got a little bit of everything" during his first appearance at ESA since leaving Utah last summer via free agency.
While Boozer drew the most attention, former Utah guards Kyle Korver (five points) and Ronnie Brewer (six) did the most damage.
Korver drained a 24-foot 3-pointer from the right wing with 2 minutes, 16 seconds to go, giving Chicago an 87-83 lead. And Brewer hit two late free throws to finish off his former team.
While Chicago was competent from the line 20 of 26 for 76.9 percent the Jazz were abnormally poor. Utah hit just 52.4 percent (11 of 21) of its foul shots, while it knocked down only one of its eight 3-pointers.
Jefferson compared the loss to the Bulls to a similar defeat to Houston a 97-96 home setback Feb. 2.
Small errors quickly piled up and ultimately toppled the Jazz. And Sloan was left to deal with the aftermath.
Jefferson summed it up: "If you count the free throws we missed tonight, we would have won the game on that alone. It's just little mistakes that cost us. I feel bad right now."
R In short • The Jazz fall to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday at home.
Key stat • Utah hits just 11-of-21 free throws.
Key moment • The Jazz commit three turnovers during the final 65 seconds.