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The Game In Between the Ears

This most recent road trip by the Jazz shed some light on why the team has struggled to find consistency and win close games. It's all in their heads! When the team gets together and focuses for forty eight minutes, they win. The perfect example was the other night in Philadelphia when the Jazz had to play without their best player and team leader, Deron Williams. Deron's absence made it very necessary for the entire team from the stars down to the scrubs to pull together, focus and work for four quarters to get the win. Guess what, they did, and they did. I really think that the Jazz's problems are not about lack of talent or the need to get Korver and Miles back, but rather a lack of mental toughness.

I loved watching the team in Philly because they worked together, played under control, and most of all, focused for the whole game. Williams is the only player who is always ready to go, and the rest of the team seems to rely on his mental toughness to get them through games. With him gone, the rest of the team rose to the occasion- Boozer, Okur and Kirilenko especially, and they put up a great win. I know over the course of an 82 game season, it can be hard to have the same intensity every night, but there has to be a way to manufacture that spark. Williams' brief time out of the lineup has made others have to pick up the slack, but you can't keep your best player out in order to make the rest of the team focused.

Before the Jazz take the floor for each game, they need to play the game in their heads. Find that intensity, know what needs to be done, realize the importance- whatever. The point is, the six-inch court in between their ears is where the players need to warm up, then they will be ready for the game on the hardwood. Williams can't do it alone.

-Conor Bentley


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