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Sloan wants defense from big guards

Ronnie Brewer went into Monday's exhibition game at Phoenix hot off a 28-point performance two nights earlier in Milwaukee.

The Jazz's sophomore swingman also owned the third-best preseason scoring average in the NBA at the time, with his 21.0-point norm over three outings trailing only New Jersey's Bostjan Nachbar and Sacramento's Kevin Martin among league leaders.

But after Brewer opened an eventual 124-101 loss by shooting 0-for-6 over three quarters, it hardly seemed to matter to Jerry Sloan that the 2006 lottery pick bounced back by making 5-of-6 from the field in the fourth.

"He's got to be ready to go to start the ballgame," the Jazz coach said.

Sloan also laid out some of what it will take for Brewer to secure the starting shooting guard position left vacant when Derek Fisher left last summer for the Lakers.

"He's got to be able to defend, for one. That's the first thing," he said. "You start the game off trying to score, you get yourself in trouble — especially young guys. You get into a casual mode if you're looking just to score.

"It's important," Sloan added with reference to Brewer and two other young contenders for playing time at the 2 spot, C.J. Miles (who shot 0-for-4 Monday and is 2-for-13 in the preseason) and rookie Morris Almond (who was 1-for-4 in Phoenix, making him 8-for-24 in exhibition play), "for those guys to understand the opportunity to play, be ready to play every single day, so they can have the chance to get better and they don't have their confidence shot."

KIRILENKO'S STRUGGLES: In going 3-for-8 from the field Monday, veteran Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko missed four jumpers from 17- to 22-feet range.

Kirilenko suggested that he struggled with his decision-making.

"It's hard to choose when you want to (shoot) the ball and when you want to pass the ball," he said.

HE SAID IT: Ex-Jazz and Suns shooting guard Jeff Hornacek, now a Jazz part-time special assistant coach assigned to work almost exclusively with Kirilenko, speaking to the Arizona Republic about the possibility of a much-discussed Kirilenko to Phoenix for All-Star Shawn Marion trade: "Both sides would lose a great player and gain a great player, but both are probably going to stay where they are ... There's really no reason for either team to trade these guys. I can't imagine it ever happening."

WEB WATCH:" TARGET="_blank">ESPN.com's Chad Ford, assessing trade possibilities for Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant: "The Jazz could use Andrei Kirilenko as bait. But unless Deron Williams is also in the deal, it's tough to see the Lakers biting. And Utah would probably be one destination Bryant would veto regardless of whether he has a chance to win a title there."

BOOZER UPDATE: Sloan will walk the fine line tonight between trying to boost power forward Carlos Boozer's minutes and not over-playing Utah's leading scorer and rebounder from last season.

"I don't want to put him out there too long," Sloan said, "because getting in shape is one thing, but getting somebody hurt, too, is a huge concern."

Boozer had 10 points in 13 minutes against the Suns, six at the start of the opening quarter and seven at the beginning of the third quarter.

It was his first preseason game since joining the team from home in Miami, where he was supporting 1-year-old son Carmani's battle with sickle cell anemia.

CHARITY FRONT: Boozer, Williams and Jazz president Randy Rigby were on hand Tuesday to help open a new learning and reading center at Salt Lake City's Neighborhood House, a United Way agency whose mission is to provide quality day care and supportive services for children and adults.

The Jazz, Larry H. Miller Charities and the NBA's own charity arm, NBA Cares, teamed to fund the new center.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com