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Utah Jazz: Sloan says now is not the time ‘to rest on laurels’

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Utah coach Jerry Sloan warned against getting caught up in the Jazz's recent comeback victories.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan warned against getting caught up in the Jazz’s recent comeback victories.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

ATLANTA — Having stormed to three straight comebacks — and making a bit of history along the way — the Utah Jazz are preparing to face another Eastern Conference power tonight.

After his team's morning shootaround at Philips Arena, coach Jerry Sloan made it clear he's looking forward and isn't getting caught up in the historic hoopla attached to the team's string of wins that came after trailing by 18 points or more.

Sloan's focus is on the Hawks, not in reliving moments from the heart-stopping wins over the Clippers, Heat and Magic.

"I don't know how you look back at it and say you enjoy it other than the win," Sloan said. "Bottom line is, you've got to get ready to play the next game. If you're going to rest on your laurels, you'll probably have a tough time playing. The biggest thing is getting ready for the next game."

Pardon him, but the Hall of Fame coach is not overly impressed that nobody else had ever pulled off three straight wins in the shot-clock era (since 1954) after trailing by 10 points or more at halftime.

"That'll get you a toothpick and a glass of water when you're hungry," Sloan said. "Nobody cares about that."

The Jazz do care about trying to improve their success against the athletic and fast 6-3 Hawks, who've beaten 5-3 Utah three times in a row.

"They beat us up and down the floor," Sloan said. "They're a lively bunch of guys. They're tough to guard. They shoot the ball well, so (it's) a lot for us to have to deal with."

Deron Williams said the Jazz need to stick to their game plan even against what he considers a "good defensive team" that switches assignments a lot.

Last season's struggles with Atlanta, he added, happened because the Jazz "got intent with trying to exploit mismatches instead of just trying to run our offense."

The 5 p.m. game is another ESPN showdown for Utah.

While the Jazz bring their historic three-game winning streak into Atlanta, the Hawks have lost three in a row after starting the season off 6-0.

"We've struggled here in the past," Williams said. "They're struggling the past couple of games, which is very dangerous for us because we know they're going to be ready tonight."

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