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Jazz notes • Utah Jazz lack strength of a clear-cut closer

Published April 5, 2012 10:39 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

When the Phoenix Suns needed a basket down the stretch against the Jazz on Wednesday night, they turned to Steve Nash.

In the final minutes, Utah turned to Paul Millsap … and C.J. Miles … and Al Jefferson.

Nash's back-to-back baskets in the final 14 seconds of the Suns' 107-105 win underscore the benefit of an NBA team having a clear-cut first option at the end of close games.

"You could look around the league and say, 'I'd like to have this guy and that guy,' " Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But you play with what you have.

"It would be a luxury to have four or five of those guys. But you have what you have. You'd like to pick a guy here or there, but that's a fantasy thing."

While Millsap and Jefferson have been the Jazz's primary closers this season, second-year man Gordon Hayward appears to be a possibility down the road.

"Gordon has the talent where you can put the ball in his hands and be able to make plays," Corbin said. "He can grow into it with experience.

"The top guys in this league have grown into it. They weren't those guys when they first started out. It takes awhile to get to that point."

Warriors no pushover

Golden State has struggled this season, but don't tell the Jazz.

Heading into Friday night's game against the Warriors, Utah owns a 2-1 edge in the season series.

The wins, however, have come by one point (88-87) and in overtime (99-92). Golden State's lone victory was a 119-101 rout Feb. 2.

"They are a tough team," Corbin said. "They fight hard. They are a team that wants to get up and down the floor. They take early jump shots and spread the floor. … If you fall into their trap, it can be a long night for you."

Harris' ankle healing

Point guard Devin Harris' availability against Golden State is officially being called a "game-time decision" by the Jazz.

Injured in Monday night's 102-97 win at Portland, Harris did not play in the loss to Phoenix. He practiced lightly Thursday morning.

"I'm doing OK," Harris said. "I'm going to test it today and see what happens. … But I feel better than yesterday."

Asked how the injury continued to limit his play, Harris smiled and said, "Side-to-side, pushing off. All the things I do well."

By chance, Harris experimented with a new pair of shoes at practice. But it was not because of his ankle injury.

"This was planned before," he said.

luhm@sltrib.com