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Utah Jazz notebook: 'Foul' free throw shooting highlights Jazz woes

SALT LAKE CITY — As usual, the Utah Jazz struggled against the lengthy Los Angeles Lakers.

Seven-footer Pau Gasol had a monstrous game of 22 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks, and 6-foot-10 sidekick Lamar Odom added 25 points and 11 boards.

The Jazz really struggled against another tall opponent, however, in Wednesday's win-streak-snapping 96-81 loss — and it didn't even move.

The 10-foot-high basket gave the Jazz all sorts of fits, especially when Utah players were 15 feet away and unguarded by L.A. defenders.

Perhaps indicative of far-away thoughts on sunshine and siestas, the Jazz's lack of concentration at the free-throw line — a season-low 52 percent from the charity stripe — paralleled what seemed to be an overall lack of focus.

After Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur missed four straight foul shots, disgruntled fans at EnergySolutions Arena even booed the misfiring Jazz players.

And, yes, the boos were from Jazz fans in the sold-out mixed-loyalty crowd of 19,911.

"I got restless, too," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "I got restless to all get out and our fans should've been restless because they pay a lot of money to watch us go through the motions. I don't think that's fair."

Fair?

Perhaps not.

Contagious as the sniffles?

Definitely so.

"The way the whole game went, it was kind of contagious," Deron Williams said.

And the Jazz point guard blamed himself for the, um, foul shooting.

"I started it out missing my first three," Williams said. "Free throws are contagious. When you see a guy miss a couple of free throws, you're like, 'I've got to make them,' and you put a little pressure on yourself. It's just kind of a snowball effect."

In that case, it's surprising nobody yelled "Avalanche!" Williams, a 78.4-percent free-throw shooter, missed three of eight freebies. Boozer, normally a 77.1-percent shooter, only hit 3 of 9. And Okur was off on his only two attempts despite bring a .839 percentage into the game.

They were the worst offenders of the Jazz, who normally shoot .744 as a team. This, in fact, was just the fourth time all season Utah has been below 60 percent from the foul line.

"You go up to the free-throw line, you've got to make 'em," Sloan said. "That's what they get paid for."

The Lakers, meanwhile, hit 19 of their 24 free throws.

Utah, by the way, had hit 237 of 303 free throws for 78.2 percent during the nine-game winning streak that ended Wednesday.

"When you're playing a team like this you can't keep letting things like that happen," Sloan added of the 12 misses. "You've got to be focused a little bit more. Where our energy was is beyond me."

OH-SO-CLOSE: Williams ended one rebound shy of recording his first triple-double with 11 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Might be just as well he didn't get the milestone. Williams might not want to have this lopsided loss and streak-snapper associated with a list of his career highlights.

"It's all right," Williams said. "I have a lot more games to play."

The point guard did, however, notch his 22nd double-double of the season.

MESSAGE RECEIVED: Kyrylo Fesenko only spent one day in Sloan's unofficial doghouse. A night after being put on the inactive list for the first time while healthy this season, the Jazz center dressed and played briefly Wednesday.

"I got the message," Fesenko said after the loss.

That happened, Fesenko said, when he read Sloan's hard-hitting comments about him after Tuesday's game, which included the coach saying: "He'll tell you he works hard, but I've seen guys work hard. I'm not totally blind."

Sloan said he wasn't trying to be "a hard-nosed guy" with his decision to not dress Fesenko, adding that if the coach were trying to be a disciplinarian he'd fine the third-year player whom they've "invested" a lot of time and coaching in helping.

"I just hope that he learns," Sloan said.

Fesenko, notorious for being a goof off, said he realizes he needs to take things more seriously.

"I need to be a little bit more disciplined — stop playing around that much, maybe pay attention a little bit more to the little things that basketball contains of and work harder," Fesenko said. "Obviously that was what Coach Sloan was trying to tell me and I got the message.

"I can't promise that I will," he added, "but I will work hard to succeed in that."

Contributing: Tim Buckley

e-mail: jody@desnews.com