Utah Jazz: Mo Williams' return would be welcome
Cleveland • If Mo Williams is able to return to the lineup Wednesday, it couldn't come at a better time for the Jazz.
Center Al Jefferson is listed as doubtful for the third straight game thanks to a sprained left ankle, and three Jazz (32-28) starters were held scoreless for the second time in five games in Monday's 109-108 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite going 18-14 in this stretch without Williams, the Jazz have lost four of six games since the All-Star Break.
So this, from coach Tyrone Corbin following Tuesday's morning practice, comes as welcome news in Williams' rehabilitation.
"He looked pretty good," Corbin said. "He went through all activity. He didn't have any discomfort in [his surgically repaired thumb], just keeps progressing."
Williams is still officially listed as "out," although Corbin said "there is a possibility" the point guard would play against the Cavaliers if he got through Tuesday night without any soreness.
"We'd like to have all of our guys back as soon as we can," Corbin said.
While Jefferson is unlikely to play, point guard Jamaal Tinsley is expected to rejoin the Jazz in time for Wednesday morning's shootaround after leaving Monday afternoon to attend a funeral.
Getting Williams back would plug one noticeable gap in the Jazz's offense, but there are others that still concern Corbin.
Outside of its frontcourt, the team has not gotten hardly any offensive production from its starters. Marvin Williams remained entrapped in a seasonlong malaise, Randy Foye has gone cold and Earl Watson isn't a scorer anyway.
The three were a combined 0 for 15 from the field against the Bucks.
"It is a concern," Corbin said. "We have to get scoring, and it's not just about scoring. We have to get a better flow with that first group."
That likely means a change. But what?
Corbin wasn't willing on Tuesday to offer any hints, but they're not hard to guess. Gordon Hayward would be a candidate to replace either Williams or Foye, and DeMarre Carroll could take the spot of Marvin Williams if Corbin decided to put Hayward in the backcourt or leave him on the bench.
The other option is the one Corbin has leaned on all season: letting players play through their slumps.
"It's difficult for anybody," he said. "If you get a couple easy shots and get a couple of free throws, see the ball go in the basket, it helps your confidence a little bit."
Not asking for Favors
The lasting memory from Monday's loss will be of Derrick Favors, a virtual lock to shatter career highs in points and rebounds, sitting on the Jazz bench, watching his teammates fight back from 13-point hole before losing in overtime.
With 23 points (tying a career high) and 15 rebounds (two away from his best ever), the former No. 3 overall pick was reduced to spectator.
"It was my decision," Corbin said, when asked if he could shed light on the move.
Enes Kanter and Paul Millsap were both playing well and stayed in for the final 17 minutes of the game. But Corbin has shown over time a preference for reinserting his starting center $15 million man Jefferson after the bench guys get it close.
Is Favors not viewed as being the same kind of closer?
"We liked the way it was going on the floor," Corbin said, before repeating, "I made the decision."