Houston • The Jazz went the final 18:11 of their 100-93 loss to the Houston Rockets without a traditional point guard on the floor. Mo Williams has struggled badly since returning from thumb surgery, and against a long, athletic team like the Rockets, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson are poor matchups.
Enter the super backcourt of Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks. This is unlikely a sustainable backcourt going into the future, but on Wednesday it was the team's best option. [Note: Despite the title of this post, the Jazz do need a point guard; they can't simply jettison the three traditional PGs. But in stretches, this Hayward/Burks combo has real potential, as we saw tonight.] The Jazz trailed 67-45 when Williams left the game, meaning they were plus-15 with Hayward and Burks on the court together in the second half.
Hayward: "I think we work well off of each other. He can drive and draw and kick and that helps both of ourselves and our teammates. He did a real good job of attacking in the fourth quarter and he went to the rim and tried to make plays. That's when Alec is at his best when he attacks and we get to the free throw line."
Now, that pair got to enjoy playing against Carlos Delfino and Patrick Beverley for the first half of that stretch, but continued the run when James Harden and Jeremy Lin came back with 8:25 remaining in the game.
"Those two guys, they have the ability to make plays for themselves and for other people," Marvin Williams said.
Williams was part of the Jazz lineup that really clicked in the fourth quarter. Just so nobody gets left out of this: Marvin Williams, Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors put together one of the best quarters — against a quality opponent — that the Jazz have had in a long time.
Houston made just four field goals in the final 12:44 of the ballgame. For a team that leads the league in pace and scoring — fourth in points per 100 possession with 107.6 — that is almost unthinkable.
Any concern about Millsap and/or Mo Williams reacting negatively to benching? Corbin: "No. I hope not."
Is it just me, or is it the greatest indictment of the Jazz that they claim to have the deepest front court in the league but are consistently outrebounded? Tonight itwas 44-36 by a team that starts Omer Asik and Donatas Motiejunas.
I tweeted this earlier today, but didn't get it into the paper. Spoke with Marvin Williams following the Jazz's shoot around and asked if he had given any thought to the player option he holds at the end of the season. The Jazz have eight players entering free agency after this season, and Williams could be the ninth. His response could have been expected: hadn't thought about it, loves Salt Lake, etc. At the end of the day, the former No. 2 overall pick is set to make 7,500,000 of the Miller family's dollars and there aren't many players who would just give that back.
Ty Corbin said he was willing to get creative with his rotations tonight if things didn't go well. How is this for creative? Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward did not sit for the final 24 minutes of the game. That's right, they did not come out of the game in the second half.
Jefferson finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds — his 31st double-double of the season.
Enes Kanter played just 5 minutes, his shortest on-court stint since Jan. 30 when he played 5 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets.
Here was Corbin's rationale:
"Al was going pretty good, he was going pretty good. When he wasn't getting shots, he was drawing the double team, he was making the right passes, he got alittle tired there but I was going to take him out and then he was going pretty good. We had a timeout, I let him stay in there. The team rallied around him, because we can go secondarily to him to get the ball and the guys can make plays on the backside."Next Page >
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.