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NBA: Utah Jazz's playoff novices not feeling overwhelmed

Published April 29, 2012 11:36 pm

Opening loss • Young players get trial by fire in Game 1.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

San Antonio • Sunday's opening game of this series drove home the point that the Jazz have some issues in dealing with San Antonio, but playoff inexperience is not their biggest problem.

Second-year players Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors played well, and so did DeMarre Carroll in his first postseason action. Jazz rookies Alec Burks and Enes Kanter also had some decent moments in a 106-91 loss to the Spurs at the AT&T Center.

Hayward posted 17 points, thanks mostly to aggressive driving that resulted in his 12-for-12 free-throw shooting. Favors and Carroll teamed for 14 points and 12 rebounds, even though Carroll lost his starting position to Josh Howard.

"The young guys, I thought, all did a pretty good job," said coach Tyrone Corbin. "They just came out and played."

Before the game, Corbin talked about how the playoff novices would have to adjust. "You can say it all you want," he said, "but until they get in the game and see and feel the intensity of the game, they won't really recognize what it is."

They noticed the difference, but it did not seem to bother them too much.

"Everybody playing aggressive, [taking] no plays off — that's the type of basketball I like to play," Carroll said. "I'm an energy guy; I do all the little things. To be able to see the guys doing the exact same things makes the game more fun."

Hayward applied what he learned during Butler's 2010 run to the NCAA championship game to his first playoff appearance.

"I tried to treat it just like a normal game," he said. "If you try to make it out to be bigger than it is, that's when you start to struggle."

Jazz center Al Jefferson acknowledged being nervous in his first playoff game in seven years, but he improved throughout the afternoon, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. "Most definitely, it was a learning experience for us," said Jefferson, who played in a seven-game series as a Boston rookie in 2005.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribkurt