Jazz: Chase holds hope after preseason
Brian Chase nailed both of his three-pointers, handed out an assist, and cheered his current (and hopefully future) teammates to an easy 122-96 victory over Indiana, then went home to . . . well, probably not sleep much.
"I doubt it. I doubt I get a lot of sleep," Chase said after making his closing statement in the Jazz's point-guard debate during Utah's preseason finale. "It's in God's hands right now."
Actually, the omnipotent deity he should be worried about, as far as his Jazz career goes, is Jerry Sloan. The Jazz's coach, in consultation with his assistant coaches and senior vice president Kevin O'Connor, must release between one and three players before the season opens next week, leaving four maybes to stew over hanging chads like Al Gore in Florida.
"I'm anxious to find out, sure," Chase said. "I think I did fine, but maybe my standard is different from theirs. . . . Honestly, I have no idea."
Here's a fact that won't make the waiting any easier: Sloan doesn't know how this comes out yet, either.
"I couldn't tell you who it's going to be because I don't know. We have to discuss a lot of different things," Sloan said. "I'm not the only one who makes the decision. We all get together and do what's best for the organization."
That could happen today, or it could happen later. "As far as I'm concerned, now we go back to practice and try to form an opinion," he said. "Split the difference, I don't know. Whenever Kevin says we have to, that's when we'll make the decision."
The coach wasn't concentrating on roster moves during Utah's thrashing of the Pacers, he was more concerned about defensive moves. Sure, the Jazz surpassed 120 points for the second straight night, something they never managed even once a year ago. But his point was, that's not so difficult when the other team runs fast breaks much of the night.
Even his point guard, who closed a strong preseason with 21 points and seven assists, agreed with him. A 40-point quarter, which ended all doubt about the outcome? At least 25 points in all four quarters? A whopping 84 shots attempted (thanks in part to 20 offensive rebounds)?
"That's not really Jazz-like basketball, is it?" Deron Williams said with a smile. "We executed well for stretches, but we didn't get back on defense. We can't think we're going to go out there and just outscore teams. We're not going to win that way. We have to work on stopping people."
Six Jazz players reached double figures, but Sloan and Williams were more worried about being outshot by the Pacers, 51 percent to 45. If Indiana hadn't given them so many free points, the coach said, the game would have looked a lot different.
"If we come and compete, I feel comfortable that we would execute," Sloan said. "But somewhere along the line, someone needs to take a shot. It's just something in their cereal or something, that makes them think, 'Yeah, it's my turn to shoot.' "
Added Williams, "We need to have the discipline to stay in our offense. We start having lapses, people want to get their shots off, and that's what we can't do."
Still, it's nice to head into next Wednesday's opener against the Rockets on a roll. The Jazz finished the preseason at 4-4, but say they can see improvement as the season gets closer.
"Our confidence is growing. It feels good to get a couple of good wins," said Carlos Boozer, who contributed 10 points and five rebounds in just 16 minutes. "Now we just have to get ourselves ready to go."
Easy for him to say. He won't lose any sleep wondering if he'll have a job next Wednesday.
Briefly: Forward Mehmet Okur sat out the game with a sore left hip, the first time since joining the Jazz two seasons ago that he has missed a game of any kind. The injury has lingered the past couple of days, but it's not considered serious enough to endanger his consecutive-games streak when the season begins next Wednesday.