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Following two of their three most recent wins, opposing coaches went out of their way to lament the Jazz's physical style of play. For Detroit's Lawrence Frank, it was that "if you're not the instigator, you're going to have a hard time." Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the Jazz beat the Mavericks earlier this month by "thuggin' it up."
Don't worry about the Jazz's feelings, though. They don't mind the labels.
"I would see it as a compliment," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "We are a physical team, this is a physical culture. It's been like that for years, from the ground up. We're a hard working team. And I guess if somebody say that it's got to be a compliment to us."
The Jazz commit an average 22 fouls per game, the third most in the NBA. Against the Mavericks on Jan. 7, the Jazz gained an edge after several hard fouls, including one by Derrick Favors when he essentially pulled Dirk Nowitzki to the ground.
"You have to play this game with the determination to be who you are," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Force your will on people and stand up for yourself and be aggressive. And that's how you have a chance to be successful. The rules are what the rules are and we play by the rules, but we play hard."
Masters of the house
The Jazz survived a stretch that saw them open the season with 12 of their first 18 games on the road. Then, they had two East Coast trips within two weeks of each other.
In basketball terms, the Jazz are entered the most favorable stretch of their schedule on Monday. Starting with the game against the Heat, they will play 15 of 20 games at home, where before Monday they were 11-4.
"We've got to try to use this to our advantage," Gordon Hayward said, "because we've been playing a lot of games on the road. We play well in front of these fans so, this is our time to kind of catch back up and get back into the groove of things."
The Jazz have been nearly as bad on the road (9-15) as they've been good at home, but the upcoming stretch is appetizing. Before the All-Star break the Jazz's schedule includes home games against lowly Cleveland and Washington, the uninspiring Hornets, and beatable Sacramento and Milwaukee teams.
But you won't find Corbin cutting notches in a door frame just yet.
"We can't fall into the trap because we are good here at home that just because we are here it's going to happen," he said. "We have to understand how we have to play."
Then they rest
Monday's game was the fifth in eight days for the Jazz. With a four-day break before Saturday's game against former Jazz forward C.J. Miles and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Corbin is giving his team a bit of a rest.
The team will not formally practice Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.
"The guys will get a few days off to evaluate where we are," he said.
While the team won't practice, players will still work out at the team facility and coaches will watch film and prepare for upcoming games.