New Orleans • Raja Bell compared it to an NHL team.
A few Jazz players go out, a few more come in. The action never stops, and Utah’s opponent never gets a breather.
That’s what happened to Memphis on Sunday during the Jazz’s pivotal 98-88 road win, which tipped off a back-to-back-to-back away series. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol became worn out, Utah center Al Jefferson said, and Memphis rarely found a rhythm. With key Jazz athletes such as Bell and Jefferson allowed to recharge on the bench and watch their team maintain a strong lead, it was up to reserves such as Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to keep Utah’s momentum alive.
The duo didn’t disappoint. And they’ve started to become linked on the hardwood, providing the Jazz with a formidable 1-2 punch that backs up starting big men Paul Millsap and Jefferson.
Favors said Monday he’s still learning how to play with Kanter, roving just outside the paint while Big Turkey commands the middle. Twenty-seven games into Utah’s season, the interior future of the Jazz is closer than ever to figuring it out.
“It just comes from working hard in practice and trying to develop a chemistry with each other. … When Paul and Al come out, it’s up to me and Enes to just keep it going,” said Favors, prior to tipoff Monday against the New Orleans Hornets.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is attempting to split up Favors and Kanter more than he’s done during recent games, with the idea that separately teaming them with either Jefferson or Millsap should help Utah develop offensive mismatches as the season unfolds. But Corbin couldn’t deny his young power duo is already showing signs of being beastly when paired together.
“It’s interesting. I changed it a little bit [against Memphis], but their minutes still ended up about the same,” Corbin said. “I like both ways, really. But as we go forward, I think the more diverse we are will give us a better chance down the road.”
Jazz forward Jeremy Evans entered Monday having sat out five consecutive games, and he’d taken the court only during three of Utah’s past 10 contests.
Corbin is seeing progress from the No. 55 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft during practice, shootaround and pregame warmups. But the Jazz’s frontline buildup hasn’t made getting Evans on the hardwood any easier.
“[It’s] not the game plan. It’s just a situation where there’s not that many minutes available. … I’m just more disappointed I can’t find time for him on the floor and not hurt the rotation,” Corbin said.