Much more upbeat Jazz locker room after a 94-90 home win against New Orleans on Monday. Earl Watson, C.J. Miles and Derrick Favors discussed old-school Southern rap, while Al Jefferson joked with the media before showering. Miles said the team is gelling better. Devin Harris said there's been no panic despite Utah's three blowout road losses.
Favors caught up with fellow Georgia Tech product Jarrett Jack after the game.
Asked about continued lack of production from the starting shooting guard position — Raja Bell had zero points on 0-of-2 shooting in 19:03 — Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said he's not concerned. Corbin praised Bell's defensive efforts, in addition to intangibles he brings to the game.
Bell and Gordon Hayward have struggled the last two games. The duo combined for just three points on 1-of-5 shooting against the Hornets and have not been an offensive threat. While Bell is not getting touches, Hayward has alternately missed shots and failed to create his own looks off the dribble. Hayward and Bell are also routinely left out of offensive sets.
Jefferson scored a season-high 22 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 12 points during the third quarter. Jefferson briefly left the game at the end of the fourth period due a left-leg cramp. His injury wasn't officially reported and it's not an ongoing concern.
Devin Harris on making it work with Big Al: "We're an inside-out team and he's the No. 1 option. Once he creates double-teams, it opens up so much on the weakside. And not only for myself, but for other guys, too."
Harris on his late-game pass to Paul Millsap for a key basket: "I haven't ran a whole lot of pick-and-rolls. We're just trying to figure it out. We ran a couple previous plays and we saw it was open and he made the right play."
Howard continues to move forward. He's the most aggressive player off Utah's bench and doesn't hesitate once the ball touches his hands. He could crack the starting lineup during the next two weeks, but Corbin prefers having him come off the bench for now.
Could Howard soon be in the Jazz's first unit?
"Maybe, as he continue to work and learn what we want to do to be effective for us," Corbin said. "Right now, coming off the bench he's a tough matchup. He does a good job of putting pressure on the other team and getting stops. That's going to get better, man. He's not in the shape he wants to be in yet. He's doing extra stuff still to get in better shape. There's a lot of upside to what he's doing."
Scary, because Howard's already lean, fit and muscular.
Corbin said the decision not to play Miles until the 3:13 mark in the second quarter was solely based upon Alec Burks' success. Corbin said Burks has worked hard during recent practices and deserves time on the court.
"The game's slowing down for me and I'm just going. … Hard work pays off," Burks said.
Asked about not getting in early, Miles had nothing negative to say. He's done everything from singlehandely carry the Jazz to play in the D-League. Been there, done that.
Hornets forward Jason Smith and point guard Jarrett Jack toasted the Jazz, combining for 43 points on 19-of-30 shooting, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. New Orleans was plagued by poor execution down the stretch, though, and continued to struggle behind the 3-point line (3 of 10).
Quiet night from Millsap: six points, seven shots. But The Warrior added six rebounds and three steals. He recorded two offensive boards, moving within one of passing John Stockton on the franchise's all-time leaders list.
Corbin acknowledged his rotations still aren't set and he plans to play more players than normal due to an overloaded schedule. However, two players have been left out of recent games: Jamaal Tinsley and Jeremy Evans.
Earl Watson only recorded two points on three shots. But he dished out seven assists and once again was instant energy.
Another nice effort from Enes Kanter: four points, four boards and increased confidence.
Energy-king: Favors. Nine points on 4-of-6 shooting with five rebounds and two blocks.
Brian T. Smith
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