INDIANAPOLIS — The Jazz are gone, and not soon enough. Park City is a million miles away, and not far enough. Five straight road opponents await, and if there could be more Jerry Sloan probably would be all for it.

The Jazz coach just wants to get on with the game he calls work, and events of the past week have allowed anything but.

A bar skirmish involving rookies Robert Whaley and Deron Williams, and the fallout from it, appear to have weighed heavily on Sloan — so much so that even though the Jazz managed to win their two games in its aftermath, he feels like off-court issues have kept him from doing his job to the best of his ability.

"We have to talk about things outside of basketball — that's the thing that's so bad about all the things that transpired, and I feel bad for that," said Sloan, whose Jazz beat Detroit on Monday and Portland on Wednesday to take a 10-12 record into an Eastern swing that begins tonight at Indiana and does not wrap up until next Friday in New York.

In fact, Sloan is downright taxed by it all.

"I've got to coach this team, and I've got to have the energy to coach it," he said. "And I don't have the energy to coach it with all of our coaches being involved in something else outside of basketball — because our main focus is we're worried about something's that's going on that has nothing to do with the game of basketball itself.

"And that's what we get paid to do. We're not cops. We're not police or anything like that.

"We've just got to go on with our job — and it takes a lot of energy to," Sloan added. "Even though I don't do a very good job many, many times, it still takes . . . tremendous energy. Some of these guys don't realize that."

Whaley, 23, and Williams, 21, both were issued class C misdemeanor citations Wednesday for allegedly providing false identities to Park City police after what began as a verbal altercation inside Harry O's night club on Main Street spilled outside early Sunday morning.

The two Jazz players supposedly were being heckled by Denver Nuggets fans at the private club for members, one of whom was arrested for assault after he allegedly threw a beer bottle that struck and broke the arm of an employee of the bar.

Whaley also sustained a six-stitch laceration in his right hand sometime during his visit to the bar, causing him to be unavailable for both Jazz games earlier this week.

He later admitted to lying about how the cut was incurred, originally blaming his 2-year-old son for playing with a kitchen knife.

Sloan spent countless hours including much of Wednesday dealing with the incident — one which is expected to result in punishment from the team for second-round draft choice Whaley and perhaps No. 3 overall pick Williams, as well.

No wonder he couldn't wait to get out of town Thursday.

"Physically and mentally," Sloan said of handling such matters, "I can't do it all the time for 24 hours a day — because my job is focused on trying to be a basketball coach, and not anything else."

The team on Thursday said no disciplinary action had been decided upon as of yet, though that could happen today.

Whaley did travel with the team Thursday. So did Williams, who sat out Monday vs. Detroit because of an ear infection but started Wednesday against Portland.

"You've got to go forward," Sloan said.

Though Whaley faces punitive measures of some sort, it seems his spot on the roster is secure for now.

Not that the Jazz haven't considered releasing the reserve big man, who was on a short leash with the team anyway because of a history of legal issues before being drafted out of Walsh (Ohio) University.

"It's the closest I've ever come to going the other way," Sloan said when asked about Whaley, "but I think I'm gonna try to be fair."

Sloan, in fact, suggested he still had a level of trust for Whaley — even in light of the lie he allegedly told police, and the one he admittedly told media members and team officials including Sloan himself.

"I trusted my kids — and I've had them tell me lies," the Jazz coach and father of three said. "If I'm gonna be able to deal with someone that's in this situation, I've got to look at that and say, 'I give you a second chance.' "

Sloan even went one step further.

"We've always kind of had a reputation for trying to do the right thing," he said of the Jazz franchise. "We make a mistake, I take the blame for it. I'll step up to the plate. You can blame me for everything that's happened. I don't have a problem with that."

What Sloan does seem to have an issue with, however, is just how much focus the energy-sapping matter has taken from his recently resurgent team, winners of three of its last four games.

"I've always felt basketball would be the No. 1 thing people were interested in," he said, "but that's not true."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com