Utah Jazz: Tyrone Corbin credits his team's gritty effort in comeback win
TORONTO — Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin had plenty to vent about after Monday's frustrating loss in New York. This time, he was all smiles.
Corbin, who read his team the riot act after a 22-point loss to the Knicks, might already have started working on another stormy speech with the Jazz trailing the Raptors by 14 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
Instead, he made an inspired set of substitutions that helped spark a big comeback, giving Utah an important victory in the race for the playoffs.
That was exactly the kind of response Corbin wanted to see after Monday's debacle in the Big Apple.
"We were going along pretty good and then they got up by 12 points on us but we continued to fight," Corbin said. "That's what we have to do every night. We don't want to give up the lead, but if we do give up the lead and there's time on the clock, we want to count on each other and trust each other and know that we can do it if we continue to work together as a group and not go individual.
"That was a great example tonight," Corbin added. "You think it's over and you continue to fight and one good thing happens, another good thing happens and another good thing happens just because you're trying to do the right thing. It's a great win after what we did in New York."
Already dealing with a decimated lineup and unable to call on either Paul Millsap or Andrei Kirilenko, Corbin decided to go small in the fourth. He switched to a zone, surrounding Al Jefferson with Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Raja Bell and C.J. Miles for the final 10 minutes.
"We needed to pick up the pace a little bit," Corbin explained.
"The clock was against us a little, we were down 10 points and we wanted to try to make something happen fast. We had C.J. at the four to help us get some jump shots against their zone, and then we could run down the floor a little bit more with two guards in the game."
"I think coach made a great substitution," said Harris. "We went a little bit smaller, spread the floor a little bit more and it was able to really stretch the zone out and get some good plays.
"Putting C.J. at the four, he gave us some big buckets and he did a great job of rebounding out of the zone."
Neither Millsap nor Kirilenko, who both left early Monday, were risked against the Raptors, but the short-handed Jazz didn't roll over, with the switch to zone the key turning point in Utah's late rally.
"We had a short bench and some of the guys that are out are our keys guys, so you've got to get creative," Bell said. "I think we had run our course with the conventional style of play. They had pulled away from us and it was time to try to pull something out of your hat.
"A small lineup gave us a chance in the zone to get out on the perimeter and stop some of those guys from shooting 3's. It was just enough to get it done."
The banged-up Jazz nearly lost another player Wednesday: Harris took a pounding against the Raptors, crashing into a cameraman early on, rolling his ankle on a drive to the basket in the fourth, then dislocating his right pinky after a fall. Still, there was no way he was coming out.
"Not at all," he said. "Obviously, we needed everybody at that point. It was a big stretch in the game. You've just got to gut it out."
Trainer Gary Briggs popped the finger back into place on the sideline and Harris didn't miss any time.
Jefferson said it was difficult playing without Millsap or Kirilenko.
"It's hard, especially not having my sidekick with me," Jefferson said. "When Paul's not with me, man, that's a big empty space."
Kirilenko said his decision to try and play Monday "wasn't smart."
"I didn't help my teammates and I didn't help myself," he said, but added that he expects to play Friday when the Jazz visit Minnesota.
It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Jefferson, who spent the past three seasons with the Timberwolves. Still, with the Jazz chasing a playoff berth, things will feel different this time.
"I've been in situations when I was with Minnesota and teams would come in fighting for a playoff spot and they called us spoilers," he said. "Right now, I'm on other side. I'm fighting for this playoff spot."
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