It was late night in Atlanta and Thursday had melted into Friday. The Utah Jazz had a game the next night against the Hawks, but at least one television in the Jazz’s block of hotel rooms still flickered.
Tyrone Corbin sat up and watched until the end as the Portland Trail Blazers completed a comeback to stun the defending champion Miami Heat 92-90 live on national television.
Corbin didn’t necessarily take notes, but he was paying attention. The Jazz return to EnergySolutions Arena on Monday to play the Heat, and the Jazz coach was looking for any edge.
Corbin tries to watch basketball to relax. But he can’t relax at his job. He’s too focused. Too into it. With both teams approaching on the Jazz schedule, he watched tendencies. He paid attention to who was in the game late and which guys were playing well.
A Jazz assistant coach is assigned to scout each upcoming opponent, but Corbin said he likes to watch, too, so he has “some fresh feelings about how the team is going.”
The Jazz (20-19) will play their fourth game in six nights, after going 2-1 on an East Coast trip. However, Corbin said he wasn’t worried about fatigue hampering his team’s performance.
“It’s the Miami Heat,” he said. “Come on. If you can’t get ready for those guys, man, you’re doing the wrong thing.”
The Heat beat the Jazz 105-89 back on Dec. 22 in Miami, the night Mo Williams suffered a thumb injury that will keep him out at least five more weeks. That night, they stayed competitive through the first half, before losing ground in the second without Williams.
Said guard Gordon Hayward: “We’ve got to respect those guys, but we can’t let them walk all over us. We have to be sure to be physical with them, make sure we don’t turn the ball over.”
That last task is key for the Jazz, who committed 16 turnovers in each of their last three games. It cost them in Atlanta, where they blew a 15-point lead in a loss, and nearly did in Detroit, where they only barely held on to a 13-point fourth-quarter lead.
If a team as loaded as Miami can ever look vulnerable, though, the Heat do. Or at least they did before walloping Sacramento 128-99 on Saturday. They have lost two of their last three and are playing their fourth game amid a six-game trip.
Still, the Heat own the Eastern Conference’s best record at 24-11.
“We just got to contain LeBron [James],” center Al Jefferson said. “The good thing about LeBron is he can beat you and he can help other people beat you, too.”
The Jazz still don’t know if starting small forward Marvin Williams will be available for the game.
Williams, arguably the Jazz’s best matchup on James, did not play on their trip due to inflammation in his right knee. Williams said this weekend that he hoped to be ready by Monday, but team personnel will likely take that decision out of his hands.
Heat at Jazz
P Monday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Heat at Jazz
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Monday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Utah 20-19; Miami 24-11
Season series • Heat 1-0
About the Jazz • The Jazz lost 105-89 to the Heat on Dec. 22 at AmericanAirlines Arena. ... Small forward Marvin Williams has not played in three games due to right knee inflammation. ... Paul Millsap has scored in double figures in seven straight games. ... Al Jefferson recorded his team-best 18th double-double in Saturday’s 90-87 win in Detroit.
About the Heat • Miami has lost two of its last three games but beat Sacramento 128-99 on Saturday. ... Mario Chalmers was 10-for-13 on 3-pointers against the Kings and finished with 34 points. ... The Heat are fifth in the NBA with 102.6 points per game. ... LeBron James leads the Heat in points (25.9 per game), rebounds (8.3), assists (6.9) and steals (1.6).