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There are still a lot of things Diante Garrett doesn't know about the Utah Jazz, but the team's newest player is learning quickly.
When his agent called him Monday night, as he shopped for groceries to fill his Des Moines, Iowa, apartment, Garrett knew the Jazz were struggling but didn't know their season record.
"I went and looked at the record and I'm like, '0-8? I guess I got to go turn it around,'" he said with a laugh.
On Wednesday night, playing in the fourth quarter and looking to help the Jazz do just that, Garrett really only knew a handful of plays. There were times coach Ty Corbin forgot just how new he was to the team.
"I called a play or two not realizing he was on the floor and hadn't gone through it," Corbin said Thursday. "We had to walk him through it on the floor."
In the end, Garrett's performance perhaps the most celebrated seven-point, five-assist night of the season, and a night that brought back memories of D-League call-up Sundiata Gaines hitting a game-winning 3 to beat LeBron James' Cavaliers in 2010 was as much a statement on his individual effort for one game as it was an indictment on the Jazz's point guard play leading up to that.
Garrett, a 23-year-old guard who split time last year between the Phoenix Suns and the Developmental League, arrived in Utah on Tuesday. He had not practiced with the team and wasn't even able to participate in the Jazz's pre-game shootaround. His knowledge of the offense came from watching film with the coaches before tipoff. In total, he said, he knew three or four plays.
There were X's and O's drawn hastily on whiteboards on the bench, and some quick conversations with teammates Richard Jefferson and Gordon Hayward, who instructed Garrett on how to make reads during the play.
At one point, "he dropped the ball into Gordon for a post-up we hadn't gone through," Corbin said. "It was a great feeling for us to see him be able to pick things up on the fly like that and see him execute."
Garrett had four turnovers in his first outing with the Jazz. But his five assists were more than veteran Jamaal Tinsley logged in any of his eight games before being released by the team. After notching five assists in the opener against Oklahoma City, John Lucas III has averaged just 1.5 dimes in his next eight games.
Corbin highlighted Garrett's size he's 6-foot-4 and his speed as reasons why the Jazz believe he can be effective on the floor.
In a stripped-down offense, Garrett ran the pick-and-roll as well as the Jazz have run it all season, hooking up with forward Derrick Favors for a couple baskets. He showed off his vision again when he drove baseline in the fourth quarter, and was about to pull up for a mid-range jumper when he saw Marvin Williams alone behind the 3-point line.
"I remembered that he just hit one, too," Garrett said. "I seen him in the corner of my eyes. He's wide open."
Williams buried the triple to put the Jazz up 104-100 as they inched toward their first win of the year.
While Garrett shined, Lucas never made it off the bench in the second half after going 0 for 7 from the floor in the first six of the misses coming from 3.
"I don't want to say anything against the other guys, but I thought Diante did a great job for us," Corbin said after the win when asked if he had just seen the team's best performance out of the position so far this year. "He is a point guard … and he did point guard things."
On Thursday at practice, Corbin wouldn't say whether Garrett would see an increased role Friday against the Spurs.
"We'll look at it," he said. "We'll see. John missed some shots and [Alec Burks, who also played minutes at the one-spot in the second half] was playing a little better and we wanted to get Diante some more minutes there. He's bigger. He can see over the top, so we'll see how things go there. He still has a lot to learn with us."
Jazz vs Spurs
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 1-8; Spurs 8-1
About the Jazz • After an 0-8 start, the Jazz beat the Pelicans on Wednesday to finally get into the win column. … Leading scorer Gordon Hayward did not practice Thursday because of a bruised right shin and will be a game-time decision to play. … After coming into the game 1 of his last 18 from 3, Richard Jefferson hit three of four 3-pointers Wednesday. … Rookie point guard Trey Burke is still rehabbing from preseason surgery on a fractured index finger.
About the Spurs • Coming off a 92-79 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. … Tim Duncan was just 1 of 12 from the floor in the win, but six Spurs reached double-figures. … Point guard Tony Parker leads the team in scoring at 18.1 points per game.