Monson: Jazz might be better than Corbin realizes
Once the pregame celebrations died down at EnergySolutions Arena on Wednesday night, everybody on hand wanted to see early evidence as to whether the Jazz would have anything to celebrate in actual games this year.
The initial indication: Yes.
The Jazz found their way through flurries of frustration, deficits, busted chins, bloody faces and first-game jitters to beat the Dallas Mavericks, 113-94, in Game 1.
Only 81 more to go.
"It went good," Derrick Favors said. "We got the win."
All preseason, the Jazz had talked about their depth and the many ways in which their numbers would help them. Those ways included, so the story went, better effort, better board work, straighter shooting, stronger defense and an inclination to get out in transition more often and more efficiently.
It all happened, most of the time.
The Jazz got 27 points on the break, compared with the Mavs' 12. They held the Mavs to 37 percent shooting. They killed Dallas on the glass, 61-40, including 20 offensive rebounds, and held it to 31 second-half points. It was everything the Lakers couldn't do to the Mavs the night before in Los Angeles, where the super team lost to the visitors by eight.
A few areas of high anticipation came a little clearer:
1) The Jazz took and made deep shots, but still got 44 points in the paint.
Last season, 3-point shooting was a bad adventure, the Jazz finishing near the bottom of the NBA in attempts and makes. They supposedly answered that question in the offseason, not only picking up Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Marvin Williams, but also altering their collective negative mindset about the usefulness of launching bombs.
In the opener, the Jazz hit 6 of 14 tries from behind the arc, with Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Foye all dusting the net twice. Other perimeter shots were on target, too.
"I wanted to come out and be aggressive," said Marvin, who scored 21 points in his first Jazz game.
"We made some shots and blew the game open," said Mo, who scored 21 points in his first Jazz game.
"It's a big difference," Favors added. "It frees up the inside."
2) Minutes needed to be redistributed to the younger guys.
A year ago, the Jazz's kids too frequently sat and watched from the bench as the more experienced players got most of the time. There were a couple of problems with that first, the vets are what they are and they provided few surprises as far as future potential, and second, for every minute the older players soaked up, it was another minute the younger Jazz players missed in the way of development.
On Wednesday night, the young'uns were left, again, in Tyrone Corbin's strict confinement. Favors got 17 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Enes Kanter got 14 minutes, going for six and seven. Gordon Hayward got 23 minutes, collecting 11 points and three boards. Alec Burks got two minutes in garbage time.
"It's coach's decision," said Kanter. "Whether I play five minutes or 40, I've just got to give it everything I can. I'm going to fight on the court, always fight."
The bloody bandage under his chin, hiding three stitches, proved the point.
The question remains: When will the talented young ones be set free?
"I can't control it," said Favors.
"These guys compete," Corbin said. "They all can play."
3) The Jazz, both new and old, came together.
Nobody was sure how the fresh acquisitions were going to mesh with the leftovers and, in the earliest of returns, the answer is more seamless than rough-edged. Mo Williams was huge, sparking an 18-2 run at the end of the third quarter, leading the break, nailing those consecutive 3s, spinning the game and its outcome around. Marvin Williams exploded for his points. And Foye went for 13. Combined, the trio got 55.
"I can't give my teammates enough credit for how they've embraced me," Marvin said. "And it shows."
Yeah, it did.
No conclusions can be drawn right now. The Jazz beat a moderate team without its best player Dirty Dirk didn't play on the second night of a back-to-back set. But they have some promise, and maybe even more than Corbin knows.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 960 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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