Memphis, Tenn. • Coach Tyrone Corbin made a major connection with the Jazz before Utah even tipped off against the Grizzlies on Sunday night.
Corbin took his team Saturday to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The Jazz then went out to a team dinner that evening.
The museum was formerly the Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Corbin had visited the memorial several times before. But it was the first time for Utah players such as C.J. Miles, and words such as "heavy" and "crazy" were used the morning after.
"It was good, man," said Miles, prior to tipoff against Memphis. "We're a tight-knit group. But doing something like that is always fun and always good. And it's a great exhibit, and it's powerful stuff."
With team-building activities limited on the road due to the lockout-compressed schedule, Corbin saw a free Saturday in Memphis as a perfect chance to bring his players closer together. Improved chemistry was only part of his plan, though. Corbin wanted Utah to understand the sacrifices people such as King made so others could live better and easier lives.
"[The players] wanted to hear and understand the history of the country. The history of the people. â¦ They've seen it and heard it in school. But to actually go through the museum for the first time was eye-opening for a lot of them," Corbin said.
Hayward stepping up
After holding All-NBA forward Kevin Durant to 19 points Friday in Utah's home loss to Oklahoma City, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said he believes he can defend anyone in the NBA.
They were bold words from the second-year player who was struggling with his place in the league just one year ago. But Hayward's defense and confidence have continued to improve in 2011-12, and Corbin is taking notice of the changes.
"The largest strides that he's made this year â¦ [are] defensively of taking the challenge and playing the top scorer on the other team. I think he's doing a great job of taking that challenge personally, of getting up into guys," Corbin said.
He added: "That actually generates his offense a little bit, because he's looser, he's more focused on what he has to do, and then he can get in the flow of a game a lot quicker."
facebook.com/tribjazz Jazz at Hornets
P At New Orleans Arena, 6 p.m. MST
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM
Records • Jazz 14-12,Hornets 4-23
Last meeting • Jazz won94-90 (Jan. 2)
About the Jazz • Utah is one game into its lone three-in-a-row series of the season. All three games are on the road. â¦ Newly signed forward DeMarre Carroll will likely stay inactive during the trip because he has yet to learn Utah's plays.
About the Hornets • New Orleans has lost eight straight games, hasn't won since Jan. 27, and is 1-17 in its past 18 games. â¦ High-scoring guards Eric Gordon and Jarrett Jack are out with injuries. â¦ New Orleans entered Sunday ranked 29th out of 30 teams in average scoring (87.1) and 24th in rebounds (41.3).