Originally created 05/08/00

Blazers expecting different Jazz team



PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers are expecting the real Utah Jazz to arrive any time now. Jerry Sloan says what you see is what you get.

"This is who we are," the Utah Jazz coach said Monday, surveying the damage after Sunday's 94-75 loss to the Blazers in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.

"I'd like to say we're a different team," Sloan added. "I'd like to say, `Well, all of a sudden Michael Jordan is going to show up and play for us (in Game 2 Tuesday),' but that ain't the way it works. We just have to go with who we are and see what happens."

The Jazz trailed by only four points entering the final quarter Sunday but missed nine of their first 10 shots and were outscored 29-14 in the period. Whether the short recovery time after the first round was to blame, or it was Portland's strong defense in the fourth quarter, the Jazz looked nothing like the proud team that made the conference finals five times since 1992.

"We felt like they were going to come out and deliver the first blow and play with a lot of energy and intensity," Portland's Scottie Pippen said before practice Monday. "But they were not the same team. ... We can expect a totally different team to come out (Tuesday) night."

Pippen had a terrific game, scoring 20 points and exploiting a mismatch against Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek. The 6-foot-8 Pippen scored 13 points in the second half, most of them while he was being defended by the 6-4 Hornacek.

Hornacek, who also had trouble guarding Steve Smith in the high post, said he expects to stay on Pippen. But Sloan criticized his team for standing around and not helping Hornacek.

"I think everybody in America knew that they were going to post us up, except four other guys watching," Sloan said. "Yeah, they made some shots, but their offensive rebounds kill you too. When you stand and watch and then you don't rebound, what are you supposed to do? Start switching players around? No, I don't do that. Hornacek's a pretty good player. I have no less confidence in him."

Karl Malone, the only Utah starter who consistently worked hard and contributed, is expected to play despite straining a ligament in his left knee on a freak play late in the second quarter Sunday. Malone was on the bench when teammate Armen Gilliam dived for a ball and hit Malone's chair, causing him to twist his knee.

Malone came out strong in the third quarter, scoring 12 points to keep the Jazz in it until they wilted in the fourth. He finished with 22 points.

Malone skipped Monday's practice, which amounted to little more than shooting around. His no-show might have had less to do with his knee than his annoyance at the media. Malone, who lost to Jordan's and Pippen's Chicago Bulls twice in the NBA Finals, cursed and cut an interview short after a reporter asked about Pippen's dominance in the postseason.

"He's fine," Hornacek said of Malone.

"We all know Karl will be there," Jazz guard John Stockton said. "If his leg's broken, we know he'll be there and play well, and you can't really stop and think about it. That's the way it is; just go play."

Utah shot 37 percent Sunday, and in its three road playoff games -- all losses -- the Jazz are shooting just under 40 percent, compared with 51 percent in their three home games. They also were outscored 21-10 in second-chance points Sunday, revealing Utah's relative lack of bulk in the middle.

Stockton said there's still no reason to panic, or change the system they've had in place for 15 years.

"We just need to play our basketball, do the things we do to make us good," he said. "To go and try to change that right now doesn't make any sense. We know we have a good team. We have to play a certain way to be good, and if we don't do that, we're awfully bad."