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Jamaal Tinsley shifted uncomfortably, clearly wincing from the pain of opening his mouth to speak.
Utah's backup point guard has a wisdom tooth he needs removed in the coming days, a condition made worse by biting on choice food a few days ago.
Yet, Tinsley was present and accounted for when the Jazz went at it during Tuesday morning's practice. In a preseason where not even a single minute on the court will be guaranteed, Tinsley had no choice. He needed to play.
"It's the nature of the beast," Tinsley said. "It's the NBA. We have a really deep team, and guys are going to go at it. Nothing is going to be handed to us."
His battle with Earl Watson for minutes will be documented through the week. Both spent time last year as the primary backup behind Devin Harris. Both had their moments.
Tinsley's return to the NBA was a triumphant one. Out of the league, once known as a head case and a selfish guy, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native remade himself with Utah.
Not only did he show a grasp of the offense when he played, he got himself into the best shape of his career and proved to be a team leader, even when he was out of the rotation.
"He has to do what he did last season," Jazz head coach Ty Corbin said. "He came in and he ran the offense. He was in great shape and he gave us a lift whenever we called on him. We want those same thing from him."
Tinsley wants to be a coach when his playing days are over. He watches play from the bench, counseling guys where to go.
He knows where all five positions in the offense are supposed to be. But he's still not done as a player. His pain-threshold told at least that much.
Missing the first day
Rookie guard Kevin Murphy left the team to be with his wife, who is giving birth to the couple's first child. The shooting guard missed practice as a result. He is expected back soon.
An emphasis during Tuesday's practice was taking, and making, perimeter jumpers. Utah was among the worst shooting teams in the league last season. Fixing that is a must, according to players.
"We have to become better at shooting the ball," Gordon Hayward said. "We have to work at it every day."