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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Jazz shootaround — Team dinner, Ahearn's 10-day, Bell and Howard, O'Connor on West

Portland, Ore. — Notes following Jazz shootaround Wednesday morning at the Rose Garden.

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Utah's expected to start Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson against the Blazers. Raja Bell, Josh Howard, Earl Watson and C.J. Miles are out.

The entire Jazz team — players, coaches, media — went out to dinner Tuesday night at a steakhouse in downtown Portland. Guard Devin Harris said either coach Tyrone Corbin or general manager Kevin O'Connor picked up the tab. Harris wasn't exactly sure, though, because he joked he intentionally left a little early to make sure the check wasn't passed his way.

Harris on the Jazz actually liking each other: Unfortunately, you're correct. [Laughs] It was good. It was a good team-bonding experience. We watched the game, had a good meal. Hopefully have some carryover to the game. But I've been on teams where we've done it a lot and we still lost. But I think it was good for us.

Jazz's strong chemistry; team being focused but loose: Yeah. You've got to know what you're playing for but you can't go there uptight worried about the repercussions of the game. You go out there to play the game to win it. Let the chips fall where they may, but you've got to go out there and execute the best that you can.

Carroll on dinner: It just let everybody know we're on the same page. Everybody's rooting for each other. That's the best thing to be on the same page, especially at this time of the month.

Best chemistry he's been around in NBA: Yeah, it is. Everybody like each other, everybody talk to each other. Wake up and everybody get on the bus and everybody say, 'Good morning to each other.' You don't even get that in high school. It's amazing. It's a good feeling.

O'Connor said the Jazz haven't made a decision about whether they'll sign Blake Ahearn to a second 10-day contract. His initial deal expires Wednesday. Utah likes what Ahearn has brought to the team and knows it needs a third point guard with Watson out. However, the Jazz will fully explore their options and wait until the conclusion of Wednesday's game against the Blazers before making a final decision.

O'Connor on re-signing Ahearn: I'm going to talk to coach. We'll know before the game, I think. Well, you know what, I'm not going to make a decision until after the game. You just never know. [What if] we get another wing hurt?

O'Connor's cell phone rang (FYI: tropical-themed music) while he was being interviewed. After ignoring it and continuing to answer a question, he put it up to his ear and pretended like he was answering it. With Harris sitting about five feet away, O'Connor said, "Devin — I'm not trading him, no. He's out."

O'Connor said he believes the NBA is still reviewing Dallas guard Delonte West's wet willy on Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.

"Wait and see," O'Connor said.

O'Connor on West's foul: … The NBA reviews everything that's a technical, flagrant one and two. So they review. We have no control over everything that they do. They make their own decisions. … I think it's still under review. I really do.

Howard and Bell are with the team in Portland. Corbin acknowledged there's a chance both could return to action in time for the playoffs if Utah secures a postseason spot.

Howard shot jumpers after shootaround with assistant coach Sidney Lowe and Corbin watching.

With the 10th-place Jazz just a half game behind Houston and Phoenix in the Western Conference with four contests to go, Corbin said it's a "good time to be playing."

Corbin on Blazers being a trap game: Absolutely, and we talked about it this morning in the film session. We can't afford to worry about what's going on with them and we have to play a certain way to be successful. We've got to make sure tonight we don't fall for the trap. These guys are probably going to be loose. They have nothing to lose. They're going to shoot shots, they're going to shoot 3-pointers, they're going to run it down the floor.

What he wants in terms of improved offensive execution: We need to be able to set more screens. We get to our plays, get into our sets quicker. And then once you get that first initial pass, all the cuts have to be hard cuts with a purpose. You may not think that it means anything. But it does. When you cut hard, you pull a guy with you. If you're floating through it, then it makes the place where you're trying to get to less effective. Instead of getting the ball deep in the post, you may get it four or five steps up. So set everything up as if you're going for the shot.

Defense: Just being aggressive. We have to have hands on guys. We have to be up in guys' face, with our body and our hands active and to be close to them. The weakside rotations have to be great. They've got to be crisp. They can't be, 'Maybe I go or not go.' We have to just be in tune for whatever the game plan is for that different personnel.

Open to playing Bell: Yeah. If he's on the roster we'll see where things go. We want to make sure it's the right thing to do. But we're going to need everybody as we go forward. So we'll see how it goes.

Benefits of possibly getting Bell and Howard back in time for playoffs: Experience. The guys have been around the league for a while, they've both been in the playoffs before. It'll be two more assets for us to be able to use.

Chances of getting either back: We'll see. They have gone through any contact yet. There's a lot of time left and they're feeling good from the work that we've had 'em in so far.

Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz



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