Flat Utah Jazz fall to Blazers 110-90 as Tyrone Corbin goes young
Portland, Ore. • It took Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin just one preseason game to go young.
Despite vowing throughout training camp to only play athletes who can immediately help a rebuilding Utah team win games, Corbin kept starters such as Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur and Raja Bell on the bench for the majority of the Jazz's 110-90 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday at the Rose Garden.
With high-paid, proven veterans relegated to cushioned seats on the bench, Utah's second-year coach turned to four players 21 or younger Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter to lift up his uninspired, rhythm-less team.
Favors leapt into the light, scoring a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds.
But all that mattered to Corbin after his team's disappointing performance was the clear lack of effort he saw on the court.
Instead of resting Tuesday, Corbin said, the Jazz (0-1) will practice and watch film. There's no time to wait and much to do.
Utah's abbreviated two-game exhibition run will end Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena against the Blazers. And the Jazz only have one week left to find their rhythm before opening the 2011-12 regular season Dec. 27 at the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I think the guys understand now some of the messages that we've been trying to send in training camp," Corbin said. "That, look: It's going to come at us really quick and nobody's going to feel sorry for us and we have to be ready.
"I don't think that we came out with a sense of urgency tonight. I thought that veteran group would come out with a little bit more understanding of where we were and I didn't see it tonight."
Jefferson did Corbin one better. Utah's leading scorer and rebounder last season recorded just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting and three rebounds in 18 minutes, 21 seconds against the Blazers (1-0). With fellow starers C.J. Miles, Okur and Bell providing similar minimal production, Big Al didn't mince words.
"Last year we went undefeated in preseason then started [the regular season] slow, so it's good to get our ass kicked now," Jefferson said. "It lets us know that [other teams] are not playing. â¦ We could use all types of excuses but at the end of the day we've got to start the game out better. The starters have to take full responsibility for that and just be better, be ready to play."
The Jazz weren't Monday. Utah's offense started flat and sunk lower, with several shot attempts hopelessly tossed up just to prevent a clock violation.
The Jazz's defense was worse. Portland shot 55.8 percent (43 of 77) from the field while dishing out 25 assists, and the Blazers' lead stretched to 24 while Corbin went young.
Key Utah veterans such as Devin Harris, Miles and Jefferson said some of the Jazz's problems can be quick fixes, acknowledging the team has recently had practices that featured better individual and overall performances.
But with a mix-and-match team already dealing with an abbreviated preseason - and staring at a compressed 66-game regular season with chaotic travel - Miles said there's no time like the present to repair what's broken.
Corbin hesitated when asked if he sent an unexpected message by going young.
Miles said there was no doubt, adding the proof was in the minutes.
"They tried to play hard and that's the same thing that we got to do," Miles said. "At the start of the next game, we've got to come out and give the same effort that they gave. That's what we've got to do, plain and simple.
"[The season's] started. We've been talking about for two weeks now, everybody's ready to play. We didn't act like it."
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Storylines: Jazz lose preseason opener
R The Jazz fall 110-90 to the Trail Blazers on Monday in Portland.
• Youngsters Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks play more than four Utah starters.
• The Jazz fall behind early, trailing 20-7 with 6:01 left in the first quarter.