Marvin Williams dressed but did not play in Utah's 95-83 win over the New Orleans Hornets, a move that paid dividends for the Jazz and, likely, Williams.
The small forward had struggled with tendinitis in his right heel for several games, coach Tyrone Corbin said, and the game against one of the worst teams in the NBA allowed the Jazz an opportunity to rest Williams. However, it may have done something even more key: It freed up 26 minutes for DeMarre Carroll, whose spirited play in the second quarter carried the Jazz to their sixth win in seven games.
"It was a chance to rest him," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "His heel's been bothering him the last few ballgames and I told him earlier today, 'If we get an opportunity to give you a day, a couple of days to give you some rest to get better, it's the best thing to do for us.' ... DeMarre did a good job."
Carroll finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 26 minutes. He, and the rarely-seen lineup that started the second quarter, are the focus of the story from the game in the Saturday morning Tribune.
"Offense, that's just a plus with me," Carroll said. "I'm out there to give energy, do the little things, be the Junkyard Dog."
The TV in the Hot Rod Hundley Media Center just showed the end of the Lakers-Memphis game. Another tough one for Jazz fans to swallow, as the Lakers hold on to win 86-84 when Mike Conley's drive at the end of regulation is unrewarded with either a basket or a foul. The Jazz (40-37) remain 1/2 of a game behind the Lakers (40-36) for the eighth seed in the West.
David Locke pointed out on Twitter tonight that the Jazz are 19-0 at home against sub-.500 teams. While it seems like the Jazz are full of disappointments at times, they do take care of business — cliche, shudder — at home.
Guard Jerel McNeal's 10-day contract with the Jazz technically expired Friday night. And while the one-time D-Leaguer — not to mention Marquette's all-time leading scorer — said he had not been told the team was picking him up for 10 more days (or the rest of the season), he was apparently told to show up for Saturday's practice, which he called a "good sign." McNeal has been active once for the Jazz and has not played.
Kevin Murphy was away from the Jazz again tonight due to a skin infection. The Jazz won't say how long Enes Kanter's out with a dislocated shoulder, but they have no problem giving us all the willies with easy-to-imagine ailments: skin infection, gastric distress...
Who's the greatest point guard ever? In Utah, this is usually a one-and-done conversation. No, not John Crotty — he's usually second. But a conversation in the Jazz locker room before the game against the Hornets took an interesting turn.
Earl Watson took a question about Gary Payton, who he backed up his first season in the league with the Seattle SuperSonics, and started to give one of his usual thoughtful answers when Mo Williams, who shares a corner with Watson in the Jazz locker room, leaned over.
"Greatest point guard ever," Williams whispered.
Watson countered that growing up, he developed the opinion that "Magic's the best point guard ever."
Williams wasn't letting this one go, going to bat for Payton.
"Best point guard ever," he said. "All-around, everything. What you want, he gives you."
This all came up because according to multiple reports — I first saw it in the Seattle Times — Payton will be elected to the Hall of Fame next week. The line of questioning led to a phenomenal response from Watson, which I included in my notebook from tonight's game.
Here's Watson, unabridged:
"First of all, Gary gives no one any respect, he doesn't care. True story, this is crazy. So we come in here to play Utah, and John Stockton was here. So everybody we play Gary just talked bad about, 'Oh he's not that good, I give him 40 easy, I lock him up.' But coming here to play Utah, he was like — he was always calling me Baby Bro — he was like, 'Baby Bro, this guy right here? Ooh, this white boy is cold.'
"So he respected John Stockton. He never talked crazy to John Stockton, he just played as hard as he could but he never verbally went at him, which GP was known for. So, as far as being like my mentor coming into the league — Mo says he's the best point guard ever — I'm happy for him. I'm happy for him because he deserves it.
"One thing about him as a scout, he knew every team's plays. Every play call, the digrams, everything. He would do it. Like when Nate [then-Sonics coach Nate McMillan] would draw it up, we would walk the scout, GP would call it out. Call a play out and the coach was going to put us in that play and GP would explain what was going to happen and what was the best way was to guard it, he felt. I thought that was unique for a player to know every team's plays, the name of the play, the diagram of the play. To me, that's when I took more mental notes, like, I got to get my basketball knowledge up, because I always looked up to him."
Enjoy Tosca. Don't mess with Puccini.