The Jazz’s first and only three-day break during the compacted NBA season has paid dividends, according to coach Tyrone Corbin.
“We’ve seen a lot of progress with the guys — individually and as a team,” he said before practice Tuesday morning.
“We have a better feel for different combinations we can use. That will continue to expand … as we match up against other teams and we force other teams to match up against us.”
The Jazz have not played since a 108-98 win over Minnesota on Saturday bumped their record to 10-5.
After a 1-3 start, Utah has won nine of its last 11 games.
Corbin says the Jazz coaching staff has added “some little wrinkles to what we’ve already been doing” during back-to-back days of practice, which likely won’t happen again.
Despite allowing only 93.8 points per game, Corbin said, “We have to continue to get better on the defensive end of the floor. Our communication and rotations have to be even better.”
On offense, Corbin said, “We’ve talked about the little parts of our game — like how, when teams take away one thing, there are automatic reads so we can check into the next thing.”
The Jazz have also worked on attacking opponents who double-team Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, which is happening more often lately.
“We have to be able to get the ball out of the double-team to the weak side to take advantage of that,” Corbin said.
Jazz wary of Toronto
Even though Toronto lost eight straight prior to Tuesday night’s game at Phoenix, Corbin is wary of the Raptors.
“They are a talented young team,” he said. “They’re still finding out who they are, but they’re a capable team. You can’t relax against them.
“They can score a lot of points and they can get up-and-down the floor. You just can’t afford to relax against them because they are very capable of beating you.”
Josh Howard expected to play against Raptors
It sounds like Josh Howard expects to play against Toronto.
Howard has missed four games because of a strained quad. But he practiced Monday with “no ill effects” and returned to work Tuesday morning.
Barring a setback, Howard called himself “probable” for what will be his first game in nearly two weeks.
“He’s getting better,” Corbin said. “He went through some contact and he’s moving pretty good. We’ll just have to see where he is [Wednesday].”
Toronto at Utah
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • 7:05 p.m.
TV • Root Sports
Radio • 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM
Records • Jazz 10-5, Raptors 4-13
Series • Jazz lead, 23-7
Last meeting • Jazz, 96-94 (March 9, 2011)
About the Jazz • They have not played since Saturday, but this is the first of nine games in the next 14 nights. … They are 4-0 against Eastern Conference opponents (Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Cleveland).
About the Raptors • They are led by F Andrea Bargnani (22.3 ppg), but he is listed day-to-day with a strained calf. …They are the fourth straight opponent to play the Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back.