Utah Jazz: Schedule finally allows Jazz to catch their breath
With the frantic pace of the season's opening two months behind them, the Jazz's collective mindset has shifted from surviving to improving and perhaps winning more games.
The Jazz played 33 games during the first 60 days of the season, traveling from Portland to Miami and Los Angeles to Boston. They played 19 road games most in the NBA.
The schedule, however, finally has turned in Utah's favor.
The Jazz play only 12 games in January, including eight at home. They have three-day breaks between games three times, and their next set of back-to-back games isn't until Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
The Jazz own an 11-25 record heading into Tuesday night's game against Oklahoma City. Utah then doesn't play again until Friday night, when Cleveland visits EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz practiced Monday morning, when coach Tyrone Corbin was asked about playing only two games this week.
"For the number of games we've had so far, we need it," Corbin said. "We need practice time to reinforce some things we've had slippage on."
According to Corbin, the Jazz must sharpen their rotations on defense and tempo on offense.
"We have had so many games," he said, "we haven't had time to practice."
Finding his footing
The Jazz accomplished one thing last week.
After more than a year of trying, Laker point guard Kendall Marshall got a foothold in the league at Utah's expense.
Marshall, a D-League refugee, made his start for L.A. during its 110-99 win over Utah on Friday night. He scored 20 points, handed out 15 assists and grabbed six rebounds.
On Monday night, Marshall finished with nine points, 17 assists and six rebounds in the Lakers' 111-99 loss to Denver.
After handing out 153 assists in his first 52 NBA games, Marshall had 32 against the Jazz and Nuggets.
"Give him credit," Corbin said. "The kid played a great game against us. He made some big plays. ... We didn't take away some of the stuff he likes to do."
The Walter Mitty angle to Marshall's success makes his story an appealing one, even to opponents.
"I think it's great for the league," Corbin said. "It's frustrating to see it happen to us, but I root for underdogs. I know how hard these guys work to hone their craft and get a chance."
Marshall is friends with the Jazz's Marvin Williams after both attended North Carolina.
Referring to Williams, Marshall told the Orange County Register, "He told me after the game he was extremely proud of me. He hated it had to be against them, but he's happy for me. ...
"He texted me again ... just to tell me how proud he was of me. Marvin's like a big brother to me. Part of it's the Carolina family, but even when I first got there, he embraced me. I really look up him."
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