Mo Williams started Saturday's game against Phoenix like he does any other: with loads of energy, high-fives all around.
Then the Utah Jazz point guard straightened his tie, and sat back down on the bench. The Jazz's leading scorer and captain missed his first regular-season game as a member of the Jazz with a strained right adductor muscle, a nagging malady that kept him out of two exhibition games in October.
"He strained it last night [in Utah's 104-84 loss at Denver]," coach Tyrone Corbin said, "and he tried to go a little bit and finally said he can't go anymore."
Williams leads the Jazz with 16.8 points and 6.3 assists per game, despite being held to 2 points against the Nuggets. Jamaal Tinsley started in Williams' place.
Wiliams has a history of missing games: The 10th-year veteran has placed 80 games just twice in his career.
The Jazz have plenty of options at the position, although none as reliable as Williams. In addition to Tinsley, Randy Foye and Alec Burks both spent time at point guard on Saturday. Earl Watson, who has not played since undergoing April knee surgery, is also nearing a return.
As the health of one point guard grows more uncertain, that of another is coming into clearer focus. Corbin said he hopes Watson will be available to at some point on the Jazz's upcoming four-game road trip, and Watson said he feels ready to play.
However, Watson said he still does not have a targeted date for his return.
"Once you start looking towards a date, so to speak, you really get frustrated because you feel like you can do it now," Watson said.
Watson, in his third year with the Jazz, has been scrimmaging at full speed with the Jazz, and said the biggest concern at this point is his conditioning and not pulling a hamstring.
Once Watson returns, Corbin's job gets all the more challenging. It will give the Jazz three established point guards, plus Burks and Foye, who can play the position.
The battle for minutes between Tinsley and Watson will be the one to watch.
"They both are good point guards," Corbin said, "and they both have done good things with us. We'll see which gives us the best chance going forward, who's going to be the best fit then."
Last year in 50 games with the Jazz, Watson averaged 3 points and 4.3 assists in 20.7 minutes.