Kragthorpe: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin near breakthrough
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is on the verge of getting even, which would be a major breakthrough.
With home-court victories Monday against Houston and Wednesday against New Orleans, Corbin would push his career record to 70-70, representing a monumental climb from where he started.
With five games remaining in the 2010-11 season, about two months after he replaced Jerry Sloan, Corbin stood 5-18. The team was dealing with the trade of Deron Williams and a flurry of injuries, and I wrote at the time that Corbin was lucky to have been named the permanent coach, as opposed to being hired on an interim basis.
But since then, he's 63-52 (.547), having made a remarkable turnaround. The Jazz won three of their last five games in Corbin's partial season to finish 8-20 under him, then went 36-30 in the lockout-shortened season and are 24-20 this season, with a favorable schedule ahead of them.
So even if Corbin fails to hit .500 by Wednesday night, that milestone should come fairly soon. And it will have happened faster than I ever imagined, considering the level of competition in the NBA's Western Conference and the way the Jazz were starting over without D-Will.
Corbin has his flaws; his record in close games is deceiving, because the Jazz blow so many leads in what should be comfortable victories, for example. But he's managed to avoid prolonged slumps, the Jazz's offensive execution is improving lately and the players have responded well to him even amid changing roles and inconsistent playing time. The Jazz's level of effort is rarely an issue, which reflects well on Corbin.
And until the point when management tells him to focus on the future, I believe he's doing the right thing by giving the bulk of playing time to veterans such as Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in an effort to win games, while not ignoring the development of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
If those minutes were reversed, the Jazz would be about 20-24, not 24-20.
Corbin deserves credit for getting the Jazz into the playoffs last season and having them above the playoff cut again this season, in the face of a tough schedule to date. This guy has proven he can coach. Now, all he needs is a winning record to show for his ability.