Sloan Says Long Layoff Before Series Hurt Team

The Utah Jazz finally got its answer on the effect of the long layoff between the sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference finals and the start of the championship series. It came about the time the Chicago Bulls were celebrating in its building.

"I think if there's one thing that hurt us more than anything else in the whole season, it was the 10-day layoff," Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan said after the Bulls won the NBA title with the 87-86 victory Sunday night at the Delta Center. "I can't do anything about that, that's the rules.

"But I know what rhythm we were in and what confidence we had. And you can't put guys on the floor and simulate a game situation [in practice], I don't care how hard you try.

"Players are going to have a natural letdown, natural dropdown, and it took us a while to come back out and feel like we could compete at another level. That's part of sports. You live with it and you go home."

It's just that you go home in second place, dealing with the pain, probably even more than the same outcome a year earlier.

"Sure it is," Jazz center Greg Foster said, "because we are a much better team this year. But for some reason, we just didn't play like the team we are capable of playing like in the finals."

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