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News » Jazz: Team chemistry will not blow up locker room

Jazz: Team chemistry will not blow up locker room

Jazz: Team chemistry will not blow up locker room It's early in the semester for the Utah Jazz , but the elements on their periodic table have appeared to be a bit skewonkered. Their professor has lectured about mixing rare 'D' with the more common X's and O's, but undesirable results bubbled out of their beakers. It certainly wasn't a consistent winning formula. Combining the Basketball and science lab worlds in simple terms: The Jazz chemistry just seemed off the first week.

That, of course, has led some to hypothesize that the team's alkali metals, halogens and noble gases are having bonding issues. But players and the team's mad scientist ? aka coach Jerry Sloan ? claim locker-room chemistry hasn't been a problem. "Not that I'm aware of," said Sloan when asked about team chemistry issues Thursday morning. They aren't about to diss and tell, but the Jazz insist it's inconsequential if certain guys mix as well as two-parts-hydrogen-one-part-oxygen and, um, whatever elements make up oil. "All that really matters is on the court," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "You can not like somebody or not get along with somebody, but when you step on the court, you have to want to play with them." Plus, Williams added, the Jazz get along fine. Players even got together for a Halloween party last Saturday. "I think, for the most part, we do," he said. "We've just got to put it together." On the court for 48 straight minutes, that is, like they did late Thursday night. At any rate, Sloan says it's not uncommon for periodic elements ? OK, players ? to blend well even if they aren't bosom buddies. "There's a lot of people that don't like each other when they get off the floor," Sloan said. "But when they get out there, they have to be together in order to try to win." Coming into the San Antonio game, however, that hadn't happened for the most part ? a trend continued from last spring when Utah stumbled into an extended summer vacation (losing seven of their final nine) and got dominated in the playoffs' first round by the Los Angeles Lakers. Carlos Boozer claims the team doesn't have serious off-the-court issues, but he agrees the squad has some on-the-court jelling to do. "We've just got to do a better job. ? We've got to stick together. We can't fall apart," the power forward said. "You know when you start losing a little bit here and there, some guys go different ways on different teams. The good thing on this team is that if we stay together, we'll have a chance to fight back and win." HARPRING (NON)UPDATE: It's been six weeks since the Jazz announced that veteran small forward Matt Harpring would rest his ailing ankle and knee for that amount of time before revisiting his future. The latest news now is that, well, there isn't any latest news, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Thursday. The health and availability of Harpring remains a mystery. Neither side is trying to rush the healing process. O'Connor hasn't "communicated with him in a while" and doesn't have an indication what Harpring will do ? or be able to do. "I'm leaving that up to him," O'Connor said. Sloan said it's "obvious" Harpring's grit and experience is missed. "When we had Matt and Derek Fisher on the team, they gave us some toughness and know-how," Sloan said. "Those things are hard to replace." NOWITZKI REVISITED: Two days later, Sloan admitted he and assistant Phil Johnson mulled over myriad options of how to defend the red-hot Dirk Nowitzki during his 29-point fourth quarter in Dallas' big comeback win Tuesday. Center Mehmet Okur had the duty, but using Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko were among alternative strategies the Jazz coaches considered but didn't try. "All of your questions are valid," Sloan told reporters. "If I could answer all those when the game's going on, I'd be perfect. I wouldn't have anything for you guys to talk about. ? We don't bat 100 percent all of the time." It's not like Sloan got volunteers, either. "I didn't hear anybody say they'd want to guard him," Sloan said. "Maybe it's my hearing." e-mail: Jazz notebook

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