Even before training camp began this month for the Jazz, Jerry Sloan had a worry or two. Wednesday night, in Utah's third game of the preseason, those worst fears were realized.
"This is the thing that scares me about this team, and it has since the beginning: Are we tough enough to compete and play?" Sloan asked after the Jazz fell to Phoenix 108-67.
The Jazz coach was more than a bit miffed after watching the Suns, undefeated so far in the preseason at 4-0, clobber his now 2-1 club every which way including loose.
"They beat us about every way you can, right from the beginning," Sloan said. "We couldn't make layups, we couldn't make free throws, we couldn't do anything. They just dominated us."
Sloan seems worried less about anything physical than about the mental toughness of a team that has only two roster regulars (Matt Harpring and Raja Bell) who have played more than three seasons in the NBA.
"There's gonna be a lot of times things aren't gonna go our way, but you've got to stay with it and be tough enough mentally to hang in there," said Sloan, whose team plays its final preseason home game at 7 tonight against Sacramento in the Delta Center. "We weren't tough enough in any area (Wednesday) night, and that's a huge concern."
The Jazz did not play four regulars Wednesday night, but both Bell (groin strain) and Harpring (knee surgery) are expected to be available against the Kings.
Jarron Collins (sprained wrist) and Raul Lopez (rehabbing weak leg muscles) both will sit out tonight, and free agent Jason Miskiri (lower-back sprain) is doubtful.
KEEPING UP WITH CARLOS: Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo is quite the busy man lately.
On Thursday, an off-day for the Jazz, he did photo shoots for both his shoe supplier, And1, and for Slam magazine, which plans to feature him in a future-issue cover story.
This week, Arroyo also is the subject of a two-page story in Sports Illustrated.
KEEPING UP WITH KARL: According to columnist Sid Hartman in Thursday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, if former Jazz star Karl Malone decides to play this season, "the Lakers are first on his list, followed by the Spurs and the (Timberwolves)."
Hartman's one-liner follows a note earlier this week from a St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist who suggested Malone is still considering Minnesota, despite previous reports that he would return only to Los Angeles should he opt against retirement.
EVENING PROMOTIONS: Bell, Lopez and teammates Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Curtis Borchardt, Kris Humphries and Cedric Henderson all are scheduled to greet fans, sign autographs and give away poster calendars in front of Delta Center doors from 5:30 until 6 tonight.
Also tonight, students dressed in Halloween costumes will be on the Delta Center concourse prior to tipoff to collect donations designated for UNICEF.
Utah vs. Sacramento
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Delta Center
Radio: KFNZ, 1320 AM