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Kurt Kragthorpe: Utah Jazz are showing signs of getting it together

Published November 20, 2012 1:00 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

In his first 12 minutes on the floor Monday night, Jazz forward Marvin Williams scored 12 points and launched his team toward a comfortable victory.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin clearly deserves praise for another brilliant substitution.

Well, some credit must go to the officiating crew that sent Derrick Favors to the bench with his second foul exactly 60 seconds into the Jazz's 102-91 defeat of Houston at EnergySolutions Arena.

You think somebody might be trying to tell Corbin something about his Big Lineup?

Otherwise, the Jazz looked just fine.

So they're 12 games into this season, standing 6-6 and tied for seventh place in the Western Conference, basically right on schedule considering their road-heavy November.

As opposed to being in a hurry to figure everything out, Corbin is finding comfort in the calendar.

At this time last year, the NBA lockout was still being enforced. So what's the harm of a little experimentation?

"It's early," Corbin said. "We get a chance to look at some different things. … We'd like to get it set as soon as we can, but it's such a long season [with] so many different obstacles."

In other words, check back later when more information becomes available.

Here's what I do know about these guys: They may be predictably average, but they're not boring. They're unbeatable (4-0) at home and horrible (2-6) on the road, yet those records only begin to tell their story.

The Jazz already forced a huge coaching change by beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Mike Brown's last game, they needed three overtimes and 140 points to beat Toronto and they had to recover from a 15-2 deficit Saturday in Washington to keep the Wizards winless.

The personnel situation keeps evolving. The Big Lineup, with Favors replacing Williams and joining Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, has worked well — just not when Corbin tried it to begin these last two games. Asked if he laughed when Favors picked up those two fouls, Corbin rolled his eyes and almost agreed with such characterization. "You try it, and then you're right back … because of the fouls," he said.

Describing himself as "not completely sold" on the approach, Corbin said, "It may be something we have to go to during the course of a game, more so than starting out that way."

In other developments, Corbin buried DeMarre Carroll and then rediscovered him. Enes Kanter's improvement got stuck somewhere between the preseason schedule and the real games, although he made progress Monday.

Gordon Hayward is playing better now that he's coming off the bench and being needed to score — which Corbin would have known, if he'd ever asked Hayward's high school tennis coach in Indiana (Hayward innately responds to his level of responsibility, such as playing singles).

The greatest sign of hope is guard Randy Foye's 3-point shooting, addressing the Jazz's ongoing problem in the absence of Kyle Korver and Mehmet Okur. Foye increased his season percentage to .442 with a 4-of-7 night, spreading the defense to the delight of the inside players.

"Most definitely," Jefferson said, "it makes my life a little easier."

Having returned from a four-game trip, nobody played more than 27 minutes for the Jazz, and now they're off until Friday.

The schedule is so demanding, with 12 of their first 18 games on the road, that merely remaining around .500 for a while will be an achievement.

They'll get better, eventually. For now, this Jazz season remains a nightly adventure, subject to varying forces at work — including some unintentionally helpful officiating, in Monday's case.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribkurt






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