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Scoring down, chemistry up for starters

Published January 17, 2012 11:38 pm

Jazz notes • Coach Corbin says first unit working "extremely well" together.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Jazz's starting five isn't setting the NBA on fire and has sometimes struggled to jump out of the gate.

But Utah's first unit has led the Jazz to victories in eight of nine games, and coach Tyrone Corbin is willing to sacrifice initial scoring for intangibles.

"They're working extremely well with each other," Corbin said. "They're doing a great job of communicating with each other and pushing the ball."

According to hoopstats.com, Utah's starters entered Tuesday ranked 29th out of 30 teams in average scoring (54.9), topping only Dallas and falling below struggling squads such as Washington, Sacramento and Charlotte.

Yet the Jazz's main first unit — Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson — hold a 7-2 record after Utah blew out Los Angeles 108-79. And the majority of Utah's first five has seen increased offensive production during recent games.

"They understand where to get the ball to different guys at different times in the games … and they're really trusting each other on the defensive end, and the communication's been great," Corbin said.

Young promise

The NBA released its 10th annual general managers' poll Tuesday.

The Jazz made little impact, with names such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant dominating the results. However, a few Utah players did catch the eyes of league GMs.

Alec Burks and Enes Kanter received votes as the rookie who'll be the best five player in five years, while Burks drew notice for his athleticism.

Jazz fans at EnergySolutions Arena were voted the second-best home-court advantage, trailing only Portland's supporters.

Meanwhile, Millsap received votes as "doing the most with least."

He entered Tuesday ranked ninth in the NBA in field-goal percentage (55.4), and was second on the Jazz in average points (15.6) and rebounds (8.6).

Two out

Jazz forwards Josh Howard (strained left quad) and Derrick Favors (sprained right ankle) didn't play Tuesday.

Favors said Sunday after a road win against Denver he planned to take the court against the Clippers. He acknowledged during shootaround Tuesday morning his ankle had swelled a little, though, and was troubling him when he jumped and cut.

Favors re-evaluated his ankle before tipoff, determining it was better to sit out rather than risk further injury.

"I want to be able to play, but at the same time I've got to be careful about it," said Favors, who plans to be active Thursday against Dallas. "I've still got a lot of games to play and I don't want to do something worse to it."

bsmith@sltrib.com

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