Utah Jazz: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors ready for home debut
SALT LAKE CITY — Playing their first home game in 12 days, the Utah Jazz will get an opportunity tonight to show their fans the souvenirs they picked up on their recent road trip.
The guy wearing No. 5, Jazz fans will quickly notice, is not Carlos Boozer.
This new No. 5 is Devin Harris, a slight-of-frame-but-speedy 6-foot-3 veteran who now happens to be Utah's starting point guard after being acquired last Wednesday.
And the large, athletic player sporting No. 15 in his Utah uniform is not Matt Harpring or Sundiata Gaines.
Rookie Derrick Favors did, however, play college ball in the Peach State like those two former Jazz players (one year at Harpring's alma mater, Georgia Tech, before being taken third overall in last year's draft).
When Utah takes to the court against Boston, Jazz loyalists will also notice the absence of a No. 8 on their team.
All-Star point guard Deron Williams — the fan-favorite and face of the franchise in Utah for the past five years before things turned sour recently — is now with the New Jersey Nets, of course.
My how things change.
Coach Ty Corbin — remember, he's the guy who just replaced Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan as Utah's bench boss three weeks ago — is pleased with how his new pair of players has integrated into the Jazz system.
Harris and Favors had solid outings in their debuts Friday, when Utah helped Corbin win his first game as head coach (95-84 at Indiana). Harris then made his starting debut Saturday in Detroit, picking up a double-double, while the 19-year-old Favors hit double digits in scoring for the first time as a Jazzman.
It's been a crash course for the two newbies, considering they didn't meet their new team until Thursday and they've only had one practice, one shootaround and two games.
"They're coming, and they have to learn on the fly," Corbin said. "So it's tough, especially (for) Favors, who's young. Devin's been around the league a little while, so he can pick it up a little bit faster."
Corbin has been pleased with their assimilation so far. He's given both players ample playing opportunities as well.
Harris averaged 30.5 minutes — scoring 15.5 points with 8.5 assists and 4..5 rebounds — in his first games with Utah.
And Favors, who averaged just over six points with New Jersey, has scored eight points per game with 2.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes with the Jazz.
"They both are learning," Corbin said. "You've almost got to slow it down so they can get to the spots they're supposed to get, but I can't be disappointed in their efforts."
Harris, who turned 28 years old on Sunday, admitted the change has its challenges.
"It's tough. When I'm out there, I'm trying to learn the flow of the offense and the defense," he said after Saturday's loss at Detroit. "We just didn't make the proper rotations and gave them some wide-open looks. It's OK to make mistakes, but late in the game we have to bunker down and try to put a team away like that."
Though he said he'd only give himself a "C or a C-plus" as a Jazz player, Harris is feeling a bit more comfortable now than he did Thursday.
"I'm still learning," he said. "There's some good things and bad things to learn from, but I continue to get better. I'm just trying to work my way through the plays, to try to get better each day."
In that sense, the Jazz are experiencing the same things. Utah snapped a five-game losing streak Friday against the Pacers, but the ever-changing squad was defeated in Detroit, has lost 15 of its past 20 games and has fallen out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Now the Jazz face two tough home games — tonight against the Celtics, then Thursday vs. Denver on a TNT-televised game.
"We need something good to happen so that we can start feeling good about ourselves," Corbin said. "With all the changes that are going on, games are still going on and we still have a chance to make the playoffs and we want to make the most of that."
So, how can the Jazz, who've been through so much lately, settle down?
"Just time. Keep working, stay focused, stay positive, stay together as a group of guys and it will turn itself," Corbin said. "If we don't do that, we have no chance at it."
Contributing: Wright Wilson
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