Jazz 104, Kings 102: Watson returns but is limited
>Earl Watson played 10 minutes in his return to the Jazz Friday night, which, he said, was by design.
And on a night the Jazz lost starter Mo Williams to a sprained right ankle, the veteran point guard felt like he had more to give.
"It's not my call not to play extended minutes," he said. "I don't know who it's coming from. I was just got told my minutes would be 10 minutes. As far as physically, I feel like I can play more because I practice. "
The Jazz beat Sacramento 104-102 and certainly weren't hurting for more productivity from their point guards. In 31 minutes, Jamaal Tinsley finished with 2 points and 12 assists (his third double-digit assist performance of the season). However, there were encouraging signs from Watson, as well, including a fourth-quarter lob to Gordon Hayward who dunked on the finish.
"That was me just trying to make a play," Watson said. "It was a tough catch. I threw the pass really high, Gordon did a good job of going to get it. That was when I really felt comfortable, but at that time my 10 minutes was up. So I was out."
Coach Tyrone Corbin said before the game that he would limit Watson's minutes as he eases back into the rotation. Of course, it doesn't help Corbin that his other two point guards have performed well through 13 games.
"We'll try to get him on the floor tonight for a few minutes," Corbin said before the game, "and see how he responds with the flight and then the game tomorrow night in Sacramento and see how things go. All the guys are playing well so we just have to try to make it work."
Watson was unable to walk for the first three months following April knee surgery, but said he has "been working as hard as you can work. I'm not sure there's anyone who works as hard as me. I think I'm prepared for whatever, whatever minutes I get I'm prepared."
• Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette scored 10 points off the bench for the Kings, including a 3-pointer with about 7 minutes left that gave Sacramento a 12-point lead. The second-year point guard was booed every time he touched the ball, and said after the game that he was "was grateful that they still follow my career."
"I didn't really notice it," Hayward said of the booing. "I couldn't tell if it was booing or what it was. He hasn't actually played recently I don't think, so for him to come in and play the way he did I thought was pretty good effort by him."
Games in Salt Lake City have been a totally different experience for Fredette than Hayward's returns to Indianapolis, his hometown.
"There might have been more Hayward jerseys the first time I went back than Pacer jerseys," he said.
Of course, it's not a totally perfect comparison: Fredette is from Glens Falls, N.Y., and that BYU-Utah rivalry is, well, unique.
• Mo Williams hobbled off the floor with 5:41 remaining in the first quarter. He fell over defending a 3-point basket by Aaron Brooks, and sprained his right ankle. He returned with 9:57 left in the second quarter but was replaced by Earl Watson little more than a minute later.
"I was going to give it a go, and just play through the pain," Willams said in the locker room following the game, wearing a walking boot. No word on whether Williams will be available for the Jazz Saturday night in Sacramento.
"I'm just [going to] ice the hell out of it tonight, get a laser on it, see how it responds tomorrow," he said.