Jazz forward Josh Howard's goal for tonight's Game 2 against San Antonio is rather simple: "Hopefully, this time, make a shot," he said good-naturedly after the team's morning shootaround at the AT&T Center.
Yeah, that would be a start.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is sticking with him ahead of DeMarre Carroll in the starting lineup, after Howard played 16 minutes in Sunday's Game 1 loss and went 0-for-4 from the field. Two of his misses came on short shots after his offensive rebounds; the others were a 3-point attempt from the corner on the Jazz's opening possession and a 13-footer in the last minute of the first half.
So that's not much of a sample size to lead to any conclusion that Howard played badly, but scoreless is scoreless. The Jazz need every point they can get to keep up with the high-scoring Spurs.
Asked what he hopes to see from Howard tonight, Corbin said, "Defensively, getting up into guys. Offensively, taking the right shots, coming off the screens, and when they dump it into the post, he can slice to the basket. Just using his energy and experience to give us a boost."
Anything that Howard produces in this series will further his career. His one-year contract with the Jazz will expire. That obviously spurred his recovery from knee surgery in late March, because coming back in the last two games of the regular season showed the Jazz - and other NBA teams - that he's healthy and marketable at age 32.
Regaining his rhythm is the immediate issue, in a series that's guaranteed to last only through Monday. "I'm getting there," Howard said. "Eventually, it'll come. Hopefully, it won't come too late. But to get back from my injury like I did is a positive for me, no matter what."