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Utah Jazz: Team looking to play role of coronation crashers

Utah Jazz players Carlos Boozer, left, and Ronnie Brewer share a laugh during practice Tuesday.
Utah Jazz players Carlos Boozer, left, and Ronnie Brewer share a laugh during practice Tuesday.
Michael Brandy, Deseret News

Not too long ago, Hollywood produced a movie about wedding crashers. Tonight, the Utah Jazz hope to help inspire a sequel of sorts.

They could call it "The Coronation Crashers."

While publicly they agree Kobe Bryant deserves the NBA's MVP trophy he will receive from commissioner David Stern before Game 2 tonight, the Jazz would love nothing more than to crash his award party.

That, however, probably isn't a script moviemakers attending the 8:30 p.m. Jazz-Los Angeles Lakers game would like.

"First, congrats to Kobe, he's well-deserving. He's been the best player in the game for ... years. Now he has the MVP trophy to go along with it," said Jazz forward Carlos Boozer at Tuesday's practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Center. "We still want to go out there and spoil their party by taking a win."

Don't mind Jazz coach Jerry Sloan if he doesn't get too caught up in the hype and hoopla.

"That stuff doesn't excite me," Sloan said. "We don't have to play against an award. We have to play against him."

The Jazz coach, who watched Karl Malone receive the award twice in the late 1990s, isn't sure the awards ceremony will give Bryant any extra motivation to play harder, either.

"Every time I see him play, he plays like he's obsessed most of the time anyway," Sloan said. "So I don't know if he can get more fired up or not."

Sloan is sure the MVP-chanting Staples Center fans, whom he calls "a pretty noisy crowd," will get into it. The Jazz just can't get caught up in the emotion.

"If we're going to worry about those things, we better stay at home," Sloan said.

Jazz point guard Deron Williams said the official MVP announcement doesn't change a thing.

"The crowd's going to be there regardless, and Kobe's going to do what Kobe does regardless. We just got to worry about us," he said. "We knew he was MVP last game. We want to stop him regardless, MVP or not, because he's their best player, their go-to guy.

"I'm very happy for him. I think he deserves it. After that, (we'll) try to beat him."

This is the first MVP award for Bryant, who averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.8 steals for the West's best team.

WORKING PLANS: Sloan was asked Tuesday if the Jazz have special plans to slow down the MVP who carried the Lakers in their Game 1 victory.

"Yeah, we had plans the last time," Sloan said. "Sometimes he breaks all your plans."

Sloan emphasized that the Jazz must make Bryant sweat more and keep him away from the free-throw line. Of Bryant's 38 points, 21 came from his 23 attempts at the charity stripe.

"You work him," Sloan said. "If you don't work him ... he's going to be fresh at the end of the ballgame."

RIM SHOTS: Despite his recent shooting woes, Jazz teammates aren't going to start playing keep-away-from-Carlos-Boozer.

"He's struggled a little bit, but he's still playing hard," Williams said. "His shots will come, they'll start falling. We just gotta keep going to him."

After shooting 54.7 percent and averaging 21.1 points in the regular season, Boozer is shooting only 42.9 percent and scoring 15.9 points in the playoffs, including a 6-for-14 outing in Game 1 against the Lakers.

"I've just got to knock it in (and) be more confident in my jumpshot," Boozer said. "I've struggled a little bit with my shot in the playoffs, and I'm aware of that, but I'm also aware that I'm playing really good basketball. I'm just not making my jumpshots ... I'm just more anxious."

A tactic that might help, Williams said, is pushing Boozer the ball inside and then having him quickly attack the defense before it can set up.

"That's when he's effective," Williams said. "So we're going to try to get him in those situations and let him work."

MILES HOMECOMING?: The Dallas Morning News listed free-agent-to-be C.J. Miles as a possible good offseason pickup for the Mavericks. The idea was news to the Jazz backup, who was drafted by Utah out of Dallas' Skyline High three years ago. Still, he acted a little intrigued.

"I think it's against the rules anyway for me to even talk to another team while I'm playing," he said. "It's great to know, though, because it's my hometown. We'll see what happens."

One intriguing aspect of playing in Dallas for Miles is that next year will be his brother's senior season of high school hoops. Mostly, he said he'd like more playing time and chances to contribute — in Utah, Dallas or wherever. The 21-year-old hasn't complained, but he's played only 11 minutes in four of seven Jazz playoff games. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 11.5 minutes and 5.0 points during the regular season.