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Utah Jazz: Team says Corbin holding it together for Jazz

Published December 8, 2012 11:40 pm

Jazz • Corbin's 1st full season sees tinkering but improvement.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

The things that agitate Jazz fans also gnaw at Tyrone Corbin.

Alec Burks' lack of playing time? The point guard rotation?

These are the issues that frustrate Corbin to a point that, occasionally, he can't even sleep.

"I can't just turn it off," Corbin said.

The Utah front office has assembled for Corbin a marvelously deep roster, but also one that is fairly nondescript. The Jazz have no superstar, or even an All-Star.

They are built on a foundation of players who expect big minutes, either because they have gotten time previously or have demonstrated that they're outgrowing smaller roles.

Despite Corbin not having one traditional, full NBA season of head coaching experience, Jazz players and executives say the third-year coach is holding it all together for the 11-10 Jazz.

"Young coaches have to figure their way out," said Jazz point guard Earl Watson, who likened Corbin to former NBA coach Nate McMillan, whom Watson played for in Seattle. "They're like a young player — they get better as time goes on."

However, in the NBA, a what-have-you-done-for-me-immediately world, coaches often don't get the time necessary to get along better with their teams. That was never clearer than after the Jazz defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 95-86 on Nov. 7. Two days later, Lakers coach Mike Brown had the rug pulled out from under him. Five games into the season, he was fired.

The Jazz face the Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center, with the Lakers on to their third head coach (Mike D'Antoni) less than two months into the season.

"You're in this business and it's volatile," Corbin said. "You've got to understand that coming in, if things go well you feel like you're in a pretty good place. If things don't go as well, then there could be a change. And who knows how fast that could turn around?"

Corbin was thrust into the role of a head coach in 2011 after the unexpected resignation of Jerry Sloan, forcing Corbin to abandon putting together a game plan for Phoenix, and instead figuring out how to implement that game plan. He said it took him the rest of that season and the summer to figure out how to be a head coach.

"I thought I needed to get my legs under me," he said, "to the end of the season and then the summer and then the lockout happened."

Corbin's limited experience doesn't guarantee that he is equipped to sort out the Jazz's issues. However, management has demonstrated its belief in the former player.

The day before the regular season began, the Jazz rewarded Corbin for a trip to the playoffs last season by exercising the option on his contract to ensure Corbin would remain under contract through at least the 2013-14 season.

"We feel as though last year, over time," General Manager Dennis Lindsey said, "Ty did an admirable job of not only getting Gordon [Hayward], Derrick [Favors], Enes [Kanter] and Alec good opportunities, but also in a winning situation. That's a tough balance."

This year, Corbin's lineups have been the products of necessity, riding the hot hand and, occasionally, whimsy. Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Favors and Watson have missed multiple games with injuries, forcing Corbin's hand and pushing the Jazz to rely on their depth.

Sometimes the moves have worked. Moving Hayward to the bench and Randy Foye into the starting lineup has been labeled a success (although both players are producing stats nearly identical to what they did in their previous roles). Meanwhile, an early-season decision to start a "big" lineup with Favors alongside Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap lasted only three games.

"It is a tough situation," Millsap said, "especially when you've got guys who can play. We've got a long list of guys who can get out there and contribute. It's a tough situation, I think any coach would have difficulty doing that. As a player, you got to get back and see that and understand what's going on."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz —

Tyrone Corbin file

Age • 49

Career record • 55-60 —

Jazz at Lakers

P At Staples Center (Los Angeles)

Tipoff • Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

TV • ROOT

Radio • 1280 AM,97.5 FM

Records • Utah 11-10; Los Angeles Lakers 9-11

Season series • Jazz 1-0

About the Jazz • Randy Foye averages as many points in 11 games as a starter (11.5) as in 10 games as a reserve. Gordon Hayward's 13.8 points off the bench are slightly higher than the 13.3 he scored in 10 starts. ... In five games back from a right foot injury, Mo Williams has averaged 13.8 points, 8.5 assists and 3.2 turnovers per game. ... The Jazz have won three straight regular-season matchups with the Lakers. ... The Jazz have won two straight overall, including a 131-99 victory over Toronto on Friday.

About the Lakers • Still without point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake, the Lakers are relying on the tandem of Darius Morris and Chris Duhon at the position. ... Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to score 30,000 career points on Wednesday. ... The Lakers have lost four of their last six games, including a 114-108 defeat Friday at Oklahoma City.