Los Angeles • Tyrone Corbin couldn’t help but take notice.
With Jazz backup point guard Earl Watson still recovering from a sprained left ankle, third-stringer Jamaal Tinsley received a three-game audition heading into a contest Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tinsley aced his rare moment of consistent court time. The nine-year veteran averaged 10.3 points, five assists and two rebounds in 22.3 minutes during recent games against Phoenix, Minnesota and Golden State.
With a recovering Watson in uniform but stuck on the bench against Los Angeles, Tinsley was again Utah’s primary backup man. Corbin acknowledged that even when Watson returns, he’ll try to find more time for Tinsley.
“It’s on me. The guy deserve to get more time on the floor,” said Corbin prior to tipoff against Lakers. “And when I find time, I’ll try to get him out there.”
Tinsley didn’t deny his increased action felt good. He’s spent the entire season preparing himself to play, despite spending the majority of the season watching instead of reacting. Entering Sunday, Tinsley had earned minutes in only 18 of Utah’s 44 games.
But rather than indulging in an I-told-you-so mentality, Tinsley, who spent the 2010-11 season out of the NBA and started 2011-12 with the Development League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, said he’s simply enjoying a life only getting better with age.
“It’s just a blessing to be back in a [good] situation. The Jazz gave me an opportunity to be here; the L.A. D-Fenders called me up, and I’m just taking advantage of it,” Tinsley said. “When I’m healthy, my game speaks for itself.”
Watson was in uniform Sunday and looked good going through pregame agility drills. He was initially held out as a precautionary measure, though, and Corbin said he would use the veteran guard only if absolutely necessary.
“He hasn’t really gone full speed yet. And coming off the injury … I don’t feel comfortable,” Corbin said.
Watson spent the last four days in Los Angeles receiving laser treatment on his injured ankle. He felt he could play against the Lakers but accepted the Jazz’s safety-first stance.
The guard’s much-loved L.A. doctor, Michael Sheps, was in attendance Sunday. It was the laser-man’s first NBA game since 1973. “He was like, ‘Get me some tickets.’ I said, ‘No problem,’ ” Watson said.