In the Jazz’s road win over Portland on Monday, coach Tyrone Corbin went big, placing Paul Millsap at small forward and forcing the Trail Blazers to match up with his Utah Jazz, something they couldn’t do.
On Friday night, Corbin went the other way against the Golden State Warriors, going with a small lineup that featured two point guards on the floor for most of the second half.
Corbin has never been one to hesitate to coach by instinct. So, going into a two-game mini-series with San Antonio, will that be the end of the unusual lineups?
“You never know,” Corbin said. “I’ve told everyone that they have to be ready. Minutes may fluctuate, they know that, but we have to do whatever we can to win games.”
With seemingly not enough minutes to keep three point guards who deserve minutes happy, Corbin played all of them on Friday night, with success. Devin Harris had a season-high 28 points, shredding Golden State’s zone with his jumper. Earl Watson played huge minutes defensively on Warriors star rookie Klay Thompson, and Jamaal Tinsley did a bit of everything, from scoring, to passing, to picking the pocket of Andris Biedrins and scoring on the other end.
“He held the ball out, and I have big hands,” Tinsley said. “I knew that I could get my hands on the ball. I think that’s the fastest I’ve run all season. I turned back the clock a little on that one.”
If nothing else, the wins over Golden State and Portland have showcased the versatility of the roster. With the ability to match up with different teams at different times, The Jazz have kept themselves in the Western Conference playoff race, despite suffering bad losses to Phoenix and Sacramento.
“It was a lineup that made Golden State adjust,” Al Jefferson said. “It was effective because we have three point guards and they all do different things very well.”
Good to go
Jefferson practiced after spending Friday night icing his abdominal strain, which flared up twice against Golden State. He said will be able to play against San Antonio. His frontcourt mate Millsap missed Saturday’s practice with flu-like symptoms, but is also expected to play against the Spurs.
San Antonio is once again on top of the Western Conference, having overtaken the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. With an infusion of youth to go with veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, suddenly the Spurs are looking formidable again.
“They are a contender,” Corbin said. “They are like a well-oiled machine. They know what they are going to do, and they know how to get things done. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”