NBA • Nothing wrong with sticking up for a teammate, coach says.
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A meaningless play in the final moments of an 11-point loss has resonated with the Jazz.
With 3.4 seconds left in Monday night's 104-93 loss at Memphis, Grizzly center Marc Gasol grabbed Randy Foye around the neck, knocked him to the court and was called for a flagrant foul.
With Foye on the ground, Mo Williams rushed in, pushed Gasol and earned a technical foul.
After the game, Williams claimed he reacted because Gasol did not make "a basketball play," which he repeated before practice on Tuesday.
"That's just me," Williams said. "That's my teammate. I'm all good with a basketball foul. But I didn't consider that a basketball foul and, if my teammate is one the floor, I should be the one to help him up."
Coach Tyrone Corbin didn't mind Williams coming to Foye's defense.
"I thought Mo did a good job," Corbin said. "... But that's who we are. We're a close-knit group. It was a little aggressive on Gasol's part, so [Williams] thought he'd step in and help his teammate. That's all it was."
Corbin believes such a play can have a long-term impact on the Jazz.
"Teams have to figure out what little things like that mean and how they become big things if you don't take care of them," he explained. "That's a staple of who you are, and I thought Mo stepping in helped us grow in that area."
'He's not a dirty player'
Foye was surprised but not upset that Gasol would foul him with only seconds left in the game.
"He didn't do anything dirty," Foye said. "I came at him, he thought I was going to shoot, I got ready to go past him and he tried to stop me from scoring. It was probably the same thing I would have done. He's not a dirty player."
Foye knew the Jazz could not win, but he wanted to play until the end.
"That's what we preach," he said. "No matter if we're up 20 or down 20, we're going to [compete] until the last play. I'm not saying I could make a 10-point play, but I tried to stay aggressive."
What did Foye think of Williams' response?
"I didn't see it," he said. "I just felt somebody stepping on my leg and looked up and saw Mo. [But] that's what you are supposed to do.
"You're supposed to fight for your teammates. If someone did that to him, I'd be the first one there for him, too. ... The biggest thing is, thank God for teammates like Mo."
The Jazz head into Wednesday night's game against the Lakers after consecutive losses at New Orleans (88-86), San Antonio (110-100) and Memphis.
"We're a little beat up," Corbin said. "We're disappointed we didn't win a game on the road. We understand we have to get better. But it's not the end of the world. ... There's a lot of basketball left to play."
Said Williams: "We're in a good place. We're going in the right direction."