They rarely get on the court, but sometimes — just sometimes — their voices have really counted.

In reflecting on Utah’s win over the Spurs on Monday night, Donovan Mitchell gave some credit to an unlikely bunch of teammates: Georges Niang, Naz Mitrou-Long and Erik McCree. Between the three of them, they didn’t play a minute of the game. But their positivity, energy and encouragement played a role.

“The excitement that they bring keeps the energy high,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been down in games, and they’re speaking up, they’re talking. … That goes a long way, and it’s a credit to those guys that they come here and understand that this team is about positivity.”

None of the three has done much yet in a Jazz uniform, although they have helped turn around the Salt Lake City Stars. The trio helped lead the Stars past the Santa Cruz Warriors on Tuesday night at Salt Lake Community College, scoring a combined 79 of the Stars’ 120 points in the win.

They also were in Jazz practice on Wednesday morning, where they’ve brought energy to practice. That’s even more helpful since coach Quin Snyder admitted he’s had concerns about his team starting to look ahead to the All-Star break.

“You guys [media] don’t get to see practice,” Snyder said, “But guys staying after, working, it all contributes to a mindset that I think helps players be ready and also improve.”

McCree, on a two-way deal, said Snyder approached them recently, telling him, Niang and Mitrou-Long that he’s noticed their energy and their spirit, and it has helped the team in its winning streak.

They kept it up Wednesday night: clapping, standing everytime a teammate headed back to the bench, and cheering on big plays. They know their role, McCree said, and they stick to it.

“Just give a lot of energy, just be the first guy up and feed the energy on the sideline,” McCree said. “Quin told us that he sees everything, and he appreciates what we do.”

Good break soon for Crowder

Jae Crowder has more to learn about playing for Utah than any other Jazzman. So does that mean extra homework over the break?

No, Snyder said.

“He needs to go — we’re not gonna keep him here and have him skip his All-Star break,” Snyder said. “I think it’s an ongoing process, and we’ve done as best we can during this time.”

That being said, Crowder will be blended in more after the break, when the Jazz will conduct their first actual practices with the 6-foot-6 forward since he joined the team from Cleveland.

“He’s responsible for learning some of this on the fly,” Snyder said. “He’s a smart guy and an intelligent player. That takes time, but I think he’ll be up to speed quickly.”


Royce O’Neale made his third straight start for Ricky Rubio, who missed the game with left hip soreness. … Donovan Mitchell paid tribute to the victims of a Florida high school shooting, writing “Pray for Parkland” along the sides of his sneakers on Wednesday night.