Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was unhappy with his team's effort in back-to-back road losses against last-place competition this week.
The Jazz surely need to raise their game to have a chance against the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Ending their struggles away from home Friday night will be a tall order against the Boston Celtics, particularly now that Kevin Garnett is back.
This is the halfway point of a five-game road trip for Utah, and the first two stops resulted in losses to the teams closest to Cleveland for the East's worst record.
Following a 108-101 loss Monday in Washington, the Jazz (27-15) allowed seven New Jersey Nets to score in double figures in a 103-95 defeat Wednesday.
It was the fourth loss in five road games for Utah, which hasn't beaten a team with a winning record away from home since defeating Portland on Nov. 20.
"We look like we were lacking effort and our energy doesn't look good to me, even more so in the last couple of games," Sloan said. "Just doesn't seem like great enthusiasm to play."
Deron Williams had 20 points and 10 assists against New Jersey. He's averaging 24.5 points and 10.5 assists over his last four, but had trouble describing the recent struggles for the Jazz, who are tied with Oklahoma City atop the Northwest Division.
"It's just another bad loss," Williams said after Wednesday's defeat. "What else can I say?"
It could be very tough to get things turned around against the Celtics (32-9), who have a three-game lead atop the East and the conference's best home record at 20-3. Their record in Boston is 15-1 when Garnett plays.
He returned Monday after missing nine games with a leg injury, scoring 19 points in a victory over Orlando, then had five of his 11 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes of an 86-82 win over Detroit on Wednesday.
Garnett said he's slowly getting back on track after the recovery.
"It's like being at a party, and the record skips, and you've got to get back on beat," Garnett said. "So, you know, the record skipped a bit. But I'm at the party; I've just got to find that groove again."
He helped Boston overcame an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit and an off night from Ray Allen to win its fourth straight and eighth in 10 games. Allen, who needs 28 more 3-pointers to tie Reggie Miller for the NBA's all-time record, scored a season-low seven points but his jumper with 25 seconds left Wednesday gave the Celtics their first second-half lead.
Allen has averaged 24.3 points against Utah but only 12.6 in the last five meetings, with Boston losing three. Paul Pierce has averaged 13.4 points on 33.9 percent shooting in that same stretch.
The Celtics, though, have won the last two meetings at home. Friday marks the end of their six-game homestand.
The team announced Wednesday that Jermaine O'Neal will miss another four weeks because of his injured left knee. O'Neal has missed the last four and also sat out 19 games from Nov. 11-Dec. 22 due to knee trouble.