Utah coach Jerry Sloan has been around long enough not to be overly excited about the way his team is playing.
The Jazz will try for their sixth straight victory Saturday when they host the struggling New Orleans Hornets.
Utah (42-19) has not lost since a 102-94 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 26, and have won five straight for the third time this season. The Jazz’s 94-72 victory over Indiana on Wednesday gave them one more victory than they had all of last season and ensured a winning record for the first time since 2004.
But even though his team has won 13 of its last 15 to hold a commanding Northwest Division lead, Sloan was disappointed that they didn’t look sharper against a Pacers squad playing its fourth game in six nights and that lost leading scorer and rebounder Jermaine O’Neal early in the third quarter.
“You’re looking at the score. I’m looking at the game,” said Sloan, who added, “There are a lot of things we’re going to have to improve on if we’re going to try to play basketball at a semi-effort.”
“It wasn’t our best game. We were a little sloppy, but the good thing about it is we don’t get rattled anymore,” Boozer said.
Despite his criticisms, Sloan still had some positive things to say about his team.
“The most important thing right now is that I know they have the feeling that they can win a ball game,” he said. “I think they have the feeling they can play against anybody.”
The Hornets (28-34) have dropped four straight, including Friday’s 104-103 defeat at Phoenix. David West and Devin Brown each had 19 points for New Orleans, which is one defeat shy of matching its longest slide of the season.
The Hornets finished the game on a 10-1 run and had a chance to win when West threw up what looked like a shot that missed the rim. West later claimed he was trying to pass the ball to Tyson Chandler.
“The play was designed perfect,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “He just didn’t shoot it. I guess he saw something else.”
Before Friday’s loss, the Hornets had failed to score more than 94 points during their losing streak, while allowing at least 104 points.
Despite the slide, the Hornets are tied for 10th place in the Western Conference and are just 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
“Man, I don’t know if we’ve had a loss this year that hurt this bad,” said Chandler, who had 12 points.
The Hornets have dropped five of their last seven meetings with the Jazz including a 104-98 defeat on March 4.