The Utah Jazz won’t make the playoffs this season.
Everyone knows that. Heck, everyone knew that, even before training camp started. But even if Utah has little to play for in the remaining three weeks, there’s still the matter of being professional.
Coach Ty Corbin said as much Saturday night. He doesn’t want to hear about guys making travel plans when the season is over. He doesn’t want to see guys loafing up and down the court. For Corbin — and the rest of the Jazz brass — they want the franchise to sprint to the finish line. Even if it’s a finish line to nowhere.
“The fans deserve to see our best effort,” Corbin said. “I want us to play hard and do this thing the right way. We’ve got to play hard and play well and be professional.”
The last few weeks could tell a lot about who will be invited back next season, or who will be sent packing. And even if there’s the conflicting temptation to accumulate as many ping pong balls for the upcoming draft lottery as possible, going into the postseason playing well is of paramount importance.
Burks on the shelf
Jazz guard Alec Burks didn’t play Saturday night against the Magic after spraining his ankle in practice. He was diagnosed prior to shoot-around, and arrived at EnergySolutions Arena in a walking boot on his left leg.
To compensate, Utah activated rookie guard Ian Clark and placed him in the rotation. Corbin said while Burks is out, Gordon Hayward’s workload could increase. The opportunity is there for Brandon Rush to receive more time as well.
“We’ll miss Alec’s ability to score and give us a scoring option off the bench,” Corbin said. “He’s a big part of our team, but you just have to go forward with what you have.”
NCAAs: Hayward bored, Williams captivated
Hayward said he’s not watching the Big Dance, partly because of the schedule, partly because his alma mater Butler isn’t involved and partly because no team from the state of Indiana made the cut.
“I haven’t watched much at all,” Hayward confessed.
Meanwhile, power forward Marvin Williams has been immersed in the tournament, and watched every minute of North Carolina’s close win over Providence. He even praised Friars guard Bryce Cotton for his 36 points in a losing effort.
“Young fella was great,” Williams said. “He was tough to stop. You have to give him all the credit in the world for how he played.”