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New low — Jazz owner rips team in loss

Andrei Kirilenko, sprained ankle, out. Gordan Giricek, tonsillitis, out. Keith McLeod, back spasms out.

Carlos Boozer, strained hamstring, still out.

By the time Kris Humphries sliced open the webbing between two of his fingers in the waning seconds of the Jazz's 73-62 loss to the New York Knicks on Monday night at the Delta Center, the Jazz hurt virtually everywhere between head and toe.

Perhaps the toughest sting, though, was that heard in Jazz ears after owner Larry H. Miller delivered a second-half tongue lashing that witnesses said was an expletive-filled tirade.

After the Jazz were outscored 18-8 in the third quarter, Miller left his usual courtside seat and joined the Jazz's between-periods huddle.

As it broke up he barked, with words apparently directed at Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. He then moved to the end of the bench, where players including Greg Ostertag and Matt Harpring could be seen getting dressed down. Miller finally turned to the Jazz's suits — injured players on the inactive list, including both Kirilenko and Boozer — and seemed to have heated words for them as well.

"He was vocal," guard Devin Brown said, "in the fact he spends money on our team, and he wants us to play hard. We need to play harder."

When Brown was pressed on what Miller said specifically, Ostertag, who was standing nearby, sarcastically told his teammate to share the exact language, then snapped, "It's a family show," before walking to the showers in disgust.

Brown did not go into details, but suffice it to say a message had been sent.

Sloan maintained he did not know precisely what Miller said, but suggested he may have gotten the gist of it.

"I didn't hear him," the Jazz coach said. "I was aware that he was in the huddle, but I didn't hear him say anything . . . I had other things that I was concerned about.

"Larry can say whatever he wants. He owns the team. I've never had a problem with that.

"He should be upset," added Sloan, whose Jazz play Sacramento tonight for their fifth road game in a stretch of six-of-seven away from the Delta Center. "I was upset, too — but my job is to try to get these guys to go play again (tonight). He always has the right to do whatever he wants to do. I know that."

To understand what made Miller so upset, one need look no further than the third quarter.

The 4-4 Jazz, starting point guard Milt Palacio in McLeod's place and rookie Andre Owens in Giricek's shooting guard spot and Harpring for Kirilenko at small forward, came out of the break down one at 37-36 after their lowest-scoring opening half of the season.

Utah scored on its first two possessions of the third, but then made 18 straight trips down the floor without getting so much as a point for its efforts.

The Jazz shot just 2 of 18 — 11.1 percent — in the quarter and went into the fourth down 11 at 55-44.

"Those were some pretty good shots," Sloan said of the 18 his team took in the third. "But they didn't go in the basket — and you have to be able to make them in this league."

Because the Jazz could not, they wound up shooting just 29.3 percent — 27 of 64 — on the night. That's a franchise-record low shooting percentage.

They also mustered just 62 points, matching their output in a loss at Detroit last season — the second-lowest scoring total in franchise history behind the time they put up just 56 at Seattle on Feb. 16, 1999.

Sloan knows why it happened, too.

"They came out and really defended us very well," he said. "We had a tough time trying to run anything. They made us take tough shots all night long.

"They put us back out on the perimeter. When we did go to the basket, it was like an adventure in there."

More often than not, the Knicks — Sloan's word — "manhandled" the Jazz.

"They were the tougher team mentally all the way around tonight," said Sloan, who, besides giving Owens his first NBA start, also had rookies C.J. Miles and Robert Whaley coming off the bench to make their NBA debuts.

"I was more disappointed in our veteran players," Sloan said. "You know, you can be upset with the young players — but some of them haven't had an opportunity to be on the floor."

Instead, Sloan seemed more miffed at the likes at Ostertag (0 points in 21 minutes), Harpring (three points, 24 minutes) and team season scoring-leader Mehmet Okur (12 points, 37 minutes).

Besides rookie point Deron Williams' 18 points, there wasn't much to please Utah on Monday.

Throughout the loss, Jazz body language suggested as much.

"We're feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves," Sloan said. "You know, you have a tendency to feel sorry for yourself (when) you get two or three guys hurt, a couple guys banged up. But you still have to go play.

"As soon as you whip yourself but shaking your head and feeling sorry for yourself, you're a whipped pup. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. Guys on the other team love seeing that. They love to see you shake your head and say, 'Oh my goodness, now what am I going to do?' "


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com