Houston • Paul Millsap watched from the bench. Mo Williams sat, too.
Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin promised before the Jazz’s 100-93 loss to the Houston Rockets that he would not hesitate to make bold rotation decisions if marquee players did not perform. He backed it up by leaving two of the team’s most highly paid players on the sidelines as the Jazz rallied to turn a 26-point third-quarter deficit into just a five-point hole with 1:29 remaining.
While the Jazz lost for the 10th time in their last 13 games and the playoffs continue to slip away, Wednesday may have represented a philosophical shift for a frustrated head coach.
“Whatever best five gives us the best chance to compete and win the ballgame,” Corbin said, “that’s who’s going to be on the floor. We can’t accept anything less than that.”
Corbin said he can no longer worry about hurting the feelings of players who end up on the bench.
“If you can’t get it going,” he said, “we’ve got to move on.”
A group anchored by Al Jefferson, but led by Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks in the backcourt, propelled the Jazz to a 32-point fourth quarter. Jefferson did not come out of the game in the second half, forming an impressive defensive tandem with Derrick Favors in the post that held the Rockets without a field goal for nearly seven minutes.
It was, essentially, for naught. The Jazz moved to three full games behind the Rockets in the Western Conference chase and enter Thursday 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and last playoff seed.
The Jazz weren’t patting themselves on the back for not completely rolling over as they have on many other occasions.
“We’re past that,” Mo Williams said. “It’s about wins now.”
Hayward led the Jazz with 27 points, while Burks added 11 off the bench. The pair combined for the Jazz’s first 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Jefferson recorded his 31st double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds.Next Page »