Thanksgiving comes amid the Jazz's only stretch in November of multiple days without a game. Coach Tyrone Corbin said he wants to use the days to tinker and test his developing team.
The biggest issue for the Jazz (6-6) is getting their new "big" starting lineup, working in the way Corbin expected when he surprisingly went to it on Nov. 17 in Washington.
"We haven't gotten off to the starts I thought we would," he said.
With Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson starting, the Jazz are 2-0, but have given up big runs to start both games. Millsap said the unit was more comfortable with the lineup at the end of last season, when it was utilized in each of four playoff games.
"I expected it at some point," said Millsap, who has had two of his three lowest scoring nights since the switch, "but not this early. If I would have known that it was going to happen I probably would have got out there and practiced, tried to get out there and work on it."
On the flip side, Gordon Hayward has flourished in two games coming off the bench. With Randy Foye in the starting lineup, Hayward moved to the bench and scored 15 points in each game.
"Gordon's aggressive play coming off the bench with the second unit is what we're looking for to boost us a little bit," Corbin said. "I think the defense on that part with that second group picks up a little more and is able to run the floor, too."
Hayward said the transition back to the bench, where he played eight games last season, has been smooth for him.
"It doesn't really change that much as far as what I'm trying to do," Hayward said. "I'm able to get some more touches a little bit, able to run some pick-and-rolls, get out and run. In that first group we have some pretty good post players down there we can feed, and in the second group we change it up a little bit and run a little more."
Earl and Kings
Earl Watson hasn't played for the Jazz since Easter and subsequent April knee surgery. On Wednesday, one week after the point guard was medically cleared to return, Corbin for the first time gave a target date for the veteran's return.
"There's an opportunity he may be ready to go Friday," Corbin said.
That decision will be predicated on the two days of practice before the Jazz host the Kings, but Watson said he didn't think "I really need to show anything different than what I've been doing" but that he wants to "take it one day at a time, so I don't get disappointed."
But after a month of watching games from a dapper suit, Watson is ready to return.
"I'm very optimistic," he said, "very positive about getting on the court real soon."