Sacramento, Calif. — Notes following Jazz shootaround Thursday morning at Power Balance Pavilion.
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said he plans to start Devin Harris, C.J. Miles, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson against the Kings.
Earl Watson (sprained left ankle) and Raja Bell (strained left adductor) are expected to dress but likely won't play.
Corbin's decision to again start Miles and Hayward together doesn't officially mark the beginning of a new first-unit rotation for the Jazz. Corbin said the move is also based around the fact Bell's still recovering from groin and knee injuries. Once Bell returns, then Corbin will decide how he sets his starters for the remainder of the season.
Corbin on starting lineup: … Raja, I think he's available but not really available. Earl is about the same. Everybody will probably be in uniform but I may be limited to some guys. I think we'll stay the way we are and we've been going the last few games. I've got to talk to Raja and see where is just yet. He's got some other [injuries] going on, too.
Holding Watson out until Friday against Denver: I think he won't play tonight. He worked yesterday pretty good and he was still unsure of it, and I'd rather not to take a chance on it right now. Plus, Jamaal's playing really well and that group's going good. I think [Watson] and Raja both, we can buy some time now. I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Miles and Hayward locking down on defense: They're understanding — they're capable defenders, they have multiple tools in their length and their quickness, and they can be physical at times. They're getting a better understanding of what it going to take and the focus that it take to play — and then the pressure that they can put on those guys on the other end of the floor. It's going to be huge for us going forward.
Kings having won three consecutive games: Well, they're scoring a lot of points. They're averaging, I think, 117 points over the last three ballgames they've won. This team is capable of playing pretty good defense, but their offense is a lot of part of … their defense. They get you to rush. They play passing lanes. They're a good one-on-one team. With Thomas in there, they run a lot of pick-and-rolls, isos, collapse the defense and kick out to their guys, and they all penetrate to the basket. So we have to do a great job, first of all, of staying between the perimeter guys — not letting them break our defense down by penetrating. And you know Cousins is a huge part of what they do inside and he's had some big games against us, so we've got to make sure our big guys come and help and he [doesn't] kill us on the weak side.
Bell has to earn his starting spot back: Naw, I know who he is. These guys know who — we've got a good feeling about who we are now. … It's just who's playing well, what rotations — we know who the guys are now.
Jazz's road-heavy upcoming schedule: It really is, man. We look at the back-to-back, day off, back-to-back and then a day off, and then one game and then we've got another back-to-back [laughs]. It's just a lot of games coming up and we need everybody. The fortunate thing for us, we've got a lot of guys that we feel comfortable about putting in the game. We can use multiple combinations at different times. The thing that we want to get better at is forcing our will on guys. If we go big or small, and forcing the other team to change, and not us having to make the reaction all the time to what we're doing. That's another of growing where we are. Oklahoma City tried to make us go small the other night, and we did a good job of making them change and go back big, because Paul could guard Durant. But then we can post him up on the other side. Those are the kind of things we're trying to grow better to; to make … the other teams make adjustments and not us having to make changes to them.
Brian T. Smith
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