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Sloan blasts players over feeble effort

SHARE Sloan blasts players over feeble effort

The door to a locker room below the Westminster College gymnasium burst open, startling about two dozen reporters who had been waiting to interview the Utah Jazz after a Saturday morning workout. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dispensed with "good morning" and directed a burst of profanity at the press.

"Why don't you just come in the locker room with us?" Sloan said. As Sloan barked at reporters, the long-faced Western Conference champions filed up a narrow stairway, weaving through the media mob to the entrance to the musty college gym that serves as Utah's spartan practice facility.But when the players reached the landing, the door was locked. It finally popped open after someone pounded on it.

This was not the time to ask the Jazz if they envy the Bulls' plush Berto Center headquarters. The Jazz were not in a jovial mood on the morning after a 93-88 loss to the Bulls in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, though Karl Malone later kidded reporters about being bawled out by Sloan.

"You got some of it, too," Malone said.

The Jazz got most of it, though. Sloan ripped his players' effort, or lack thereof, in the defeat that cost Utah homecourt advantage in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is Sunday night in the United Center.

"It looked like (the Bulls) were wearing tuxedos," Sloan said. "We didn't want to touch them."

Sloan said the Jazz's feeble effort was most plainly revealed in two statistics: offensive rebounds (the Bulls had 18, twice as many as Utah) and turnovers (the Jazz had 19, or 12 more than the Bulls).

But Sloan's biggest gripe was with his team's defense. A six-time member of the NBA's all-defensive team when he played for the Bulls, Sloan can't abide poor defense.

Sloan was particularly displeased with his team's performance on a critical play in the final minute. With the Jazz ahead 86-85, the Bulls' Steve Kerr missed a three-point shot but grabbed his own rebound and dished off to Michael Jordan, who laid the ball in and was fouled. The three-point play gave the Bulls the lead for good.

"If you look at that, it looked like a pickup game," Sloan said. "The way we ran down the floor, it was like we were playing in a pickup game. We just walked down the floor."