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Confident Jazz back in playoff picture with 76ers, Bulls left on road trip

Charlotte, N.C. — Notes from Jazz practice Thursday at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

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All Utah players are healthy heading into a contest Friday at Philadelphia. The Jazz are expected to continue to use a starting lineup of Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Josh Howard, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.

Utah coach Tyrone Corbin on the team's improved chemistry and confidence: The guys are really working hard and they have. The good thing is to see the rewards of your work and the focus that we've started to demonstrate on the road, especially. And we're going to need to continue that, man, because we need to win our share of road games finishing up the season and to have a chance to get in the playoffs, which is what our goal is. And it's going to be a race to the end.

Jazz's mentality changing during last five games: That's what we talked about, man. Three, four games in a row and you can go from being out of it to right in the middle of it and then you lose a couple and you can go the other way. We've got to make sure that we take care of business. … We can't afford to overlook anybody at any point.

Al Jefferson's improved passing: It's been night and day. His understanding of not just him getting his numbers or getting his shots, but the importance of him making plays for his teammates and, as a result, how it frees things up for him. Because now he's not only a threat to score a jumpshot or score in the post, but he's also a threat to make somebody else look bad by making the right basketball play and giving us an easy shot at the rim.

Balancing minutes at wing position: I tell the guys we're going to play a lot of guys to see how it develops. I understand the importance of them being able to get a rhythm, but you have to play the minutes that you're on the floor and respect your teammates and I'm the one that control the minutes. You're not in the game, support your teammates and don't be dissatisfied with them or getting in the game. Be upset with me if you got to be upset with anybody, because I control that. Our players have to stay together, and they've done a good job of that. It's a healthy competition. At some point, it had to tighten up a little bit. But until we get it figured out and we get it consistent — whatever we're looking for — we'll just have to play who we think gives us the best chance at that particular time.

76ers: I was thinking it was a good time [to play them], then they had the game last night where they changed their lineup and they won by 30-some odd points against Boston at home. So now they on a high.

Jazz's chemistry compared to previous seasons: It's just a good group of guys. Comparing it to anything else — this group of guys has been special. Because they understood right from the beginning that we have to stay together. We have to support each other, we have to push each other to get better everyday in practice. And that's not coming in and taking the day off and giving your guy you're competing against a pass and letting him have his way. We've got to work to make each other better. And, as a result, we work to make us better as a team.

Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz

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