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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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Even with Williams back, Jazz could start Kanter and Favors

San Antonio • Marvin Williams said his lower back felt fine after going through shootaround this morning, but even if the Jazz forward is ready to play tonight against the Spurs, coach Ty Corbin seems to be leaning toward a change in his usual starting lineup.

"Right now, size-wise tonight it might be better for us to start big," Corbin said. "If Marvin's available, he'll play some. Whether it's starting tonight we'll see."

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The Spurs start a pair of 6-11 players in Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. And starting big for the Jazz, of course, means pairing Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors together on the floor.

After starting those two together for the first dozen or so games of the season, Corbin pulled the plug on the tandem, inserting Williams in the starting five to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting.

But the Jazz coach has used the pair sparingly since, except when out of necessity, such as Friday night's game against the Clippers.

The game before, Williams had strained his lower back wrestling Dallas' Sam Dalembert for a rebound.

"It was nothing out of the norm," Williams said. "I just kind of twisted funny and it kind of locked up on me. It was kind of a freak thing."

As Williams and the Jazz awaited the results of an MRI, Kanter and Favors started and played 24 minutes together against the Clippers and they had some success doing it, especially on offense. The duo had an offensive rating of 121.4 and a defensive rating of 114.9.

"They've learned on the offensive end how … to not get in each other's way, and read when one guy's diving, the other guy's up," Corbin said. "And they're both capable of making that 15-or-so-foot shot."

Meanwhile, Williams' back injury doesn't seem to be a serious one. Doctors have cleared him to play and he expects to be ready tonight.

The 27-year-old has had sporadic issues with his back during his career, but since undergoing surgery on a bulging disc in 2011, it hasn't been an issue.

"Since I've had the surgery, I haven't felt my back at all thankfully," he said. "I felt like the surgery was 100 percent successful."

• After spraining his right ankle in practice last week, John Lucas III was back on the court for shootaround Sunday and said he feels no pain. Lucas spent three days in a protective boot after injuring himself while trying to block a shot in practice.

• Tonight's game is the fourth and final meeting between the Jazz and the Spurs. San Antonio is riding a nine-game winning streak and looks to complete the series sweep. The Spurs have won by an average of 9.6 points. In their last meeting, the Jazz trailed by 18 before a late rallying — including an 11-point outburst from rookie Trey Burke in the game's final 65 seconds — got the Jazz within 2.

• It's a bit of an early start tonight in South Texas. Tipoff will be shortly after 5 p.m. MT. The game will be televised, as usual, on ROOT Sports.

— Aaron Falk



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