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Utah Jazz notes: Earl Watson returns 7 months afer injury
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

For three months, Earl Watson couldn't walk.

"I think that was probably the toughest [part]," Watson said Friday.

The third-year Jazz point guard put on his uniform Friday for the first time this season, seven months after undergoing surgery on his right knee to repair a meniscus injury that Watson believes can be traced to early last season, when he was kicked.

"I believe it just tore and continued to tear," he said. "The details of the injury were unique for basketball I think because of the way I got kicked."

Watson said he was lucky because his surgeon was able to repair the meniscus rather than remove it, which he hopes will save him from future surgeries, including a knee replacement.

The Jazz will ease Watson back into action, coach Tyrone Corbin said. Jamaal Tinsley has been effective as the primary backup to Mo Williams, and Watson's return could cause headaches for Corbin, who already spends much of his time contemplating lineups.

"All the guys are playing well," Corbin said, "so we just have to try to make it work."

And don't expect Watson to take Tinsley's minutes right away.

"We need to keep Jamaal fresh," Corbin said, "because if something happens and Mo is in foul trouble or we need a guard to play extended minutes, Earl is not there yet."

Favors back to the bench

With Corbin's decision to return to a more traditional starting lineup Saturday, Derrick Favors moved back to the bench after two games as a starter with Utah's "big" lineup.

The Jazz were 2-0 in their last two games with Favors starting alongside Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but fell into big holes early in both victories, against Washington and Houston. Against the Rockets, Favors committed two fouls in the first minute of the game.

He watched the first minute of Friday's game from his seat.

"As I told him today, 'Don't think of it as a demotion or it didn't work,' " Corbin said, "We just want to look at a different and get ourselves a different start. You're going to get your minutes."

Favors said he was not surprised by the move out of the starting lineup and that the group will have time to get better together, just later in games.

"Me, Al, Paul play basically the same position," he said."Basically do the same type of things: rebound, score in the paint. So, it's just getting the chemistry straight."

In two starts, Favors averaged 8.5 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.

Burks and Buffs

Alec Burks wasn't too devastated by the University of Utah's football win against his alma mater Friday.

"I'm not really a football dude like that," he said, "but it's always good for CU to win."

Unfortunately for Burks, who left Colorado in 2011 after his sophomore year, the Utes prevailed 42-35 after Reggie Dunn's fourth kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Of course, Burks was closer with his basketball teammates, including NBA prospect Andre Roberson.

"I was around them every day," he said, "because it's a different bond."

Of more pressing concern for Burks is his role with the Jazz. The second-year guard has seen his minutes reduced significantly and watched as DeMarre Carroll, another onetime rotation player who was sent to the bench, earn his way back on to the floor.

"I'm happy for him," Bursk said. "He works his butt off for it, but at the same time I'm still on the bench."

Rather than gripe, though, Burks continued to take the high road.

"We're going to get better," he said, "my time will come. We all know that."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz

Jazz notes • Point guard will be eased back into lineup.
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