Utah Jazz: Key players missing as season approaches
Los Angeles • The losses have outnumbered the wins six to one.
But if Ty Corbin had to grade his team with just one more preseason game left on the schedule, the Utah Jazz coach probably would have to give it an incomplete.
"One of the things you use training camp and preseason for is to get guys used to each other, find out what rotations you have," Corbin said. "Find out where you can move guys around to. We have three key guys, guys we thought would play big roles for us, not in the lineup right now.
"It's put a little dent into what we're trying to do at this stage."
The troubles with the Jazz bench have been apparent the last few weeks and at no time greater than Tuesday night. Utah's second unit struggled to put up points or get stops against the Lakers' reserves, letting a 12-point lead disappear at Staples Center.
Free agent forward Mike Harris went scoreless and picked up five fouls in 12 minutes. Justin Holiday hit a 3-pointer but finished with a plus/minus of minus-12. And roster hopeful Scott Machado missed all six of his shots and turned over the ball twice while allowing Lakers guard Jordan Farmar to lead the comeback victory.
It was another loss for the Jazz, but it hardly was reflective of the team Utah hopes to have on the floor later this season.
As Corbin watched from the bench, so did Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush, a pair of veteran wing players who figure to play prominent roles for the Jazz once they return from injury. The question still remains: when will that be?
After having surgery to repair a nagging Achilles injury this summer, Williams still is uncertain of when he might return.
"I would circle today if I could," said Williams, who averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in Utah last season. "We haven't looked at that. The trainers have been great. They're taking it slow. Everybody's being really cautious."
Similarly, Rush has yet to be cleared for contact in practice. The swingman blew out his knee with Golden State early last season and still is working his way back. When he does return, the Jazz will add a career 41-percent 3-point shooter to the rotation.
Both Rush and Williams have been with the team this week in California.
"They're in practice to watch and see things," Corbin said. "We talk them through situations so they're familiar with it so when they do get back, we're a little ahead of the curve."
Rookie point guard Trey Burke, the ninth overall pick in this year's draft, fractured his right index finger in the team's third game of the preseason and is out indefinitely. The injury has forced John Lucas III, who look poised to be a threat to shoot and score off the bench, into a starting role.
"It's a little concerning because the season is upon us," Corbin said. "In a week, we're playing games."
Corbin said he ideally would like to rotate 10 or so players at the start of the season to keep his starters fresh. But without much depth on his bench, Corbin may be forced to play his starters heavy minutes.
"How do we get through that without killing the guys, playing them 35 to 40 minutes every night?" he said. "We've got to make sure we get guys comfortable. We have a feel for what we have, but we've got to be able to squeeze some time to buy those guys some rest."
Jazz at Lakers
O At Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
Tipoff •Â Friday, 8 p.m.
TV • None
Radio •Â 97.5 FM, 1280 AM, 960 AM
Records (preseason) •Â Jazz 1-6; Lakers 3-4
Last meeting •Â Lakers, 108-94 (Tuesday )
About the Jazz • Losers of six straight preseason games after opening with a blowout win over Golden State. â¦ Swingman Gordon Hayward leads the team with 15.6 points a night. â¦ Forward Derrick Favors is coming off his best game of the year, a 24-point, 17-rebound night against the Clippers. â¦ Missing key rotation players Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush and Trey Burke due to injury.
About the Lakers • Superstar guard Kobe Bryant still is rehabbing from a late-season Achilles injury. â¦ After trailing the Jazz by 12 on Tuesday, L.A.'s bench led the comeback win. â¦ Center Chris Kaman (illness) missed Tuesday's game against the Jazz. â¦ Veteran point guard Steve Nash played despite dealing with injuries.