Utah Jazz notebook: Energized rookies likely to see more playing time
SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin didn't regard his decision to leave Al Jefferson at the end of reserve row for the entire fourth quarter and overtime Monday night — along with Paul Millsap, for most of that time — to be a benching.
It was, rather, a bonus for the rookies.
And there could be more bonuses ahead for Utah youngsters Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans in the final week-and-a-half of the 2010-11 season.
Corbin said their efforts Monday, which turned a double-digit deficit into a brief lead in the overtime loss to Washington, could result in starting lineup and rotation changes in the final seven games.
The playoffs are no longer a realistic possibility, so this could be a golden opportunity for the Jazz to give extended looks and development playing time to their promising young guns.
"It may. We'll see where we are," Corbin said after the latest devastating loss, a 100-95 OT setback to the woeful Wizards. "The young guys, I like their energy. If they're gonna go and play yard, I think they'll push everybody else to come along, if that's what the case is."
Corbin didn't fully commit to a full-out youth movement, but he appreciated how Hayward, Favors and Evans – with C.J. Miles and Ronnie Price – helped the Jazz claw back into Monday's embarrassing defeat.
That's why he kept them in — not, he insisted, because he was trying to send a message to Jefferson or others.
"They were having success. They got us back in the ballgame. I thought they deserved to be on the floor," Corbin said. "I was very encouraged. They did a good job of just bringing energy. They played hard. They counted on each other. They trusted each other on the defensive end. They made some mistakes, and young guys will do that."
And those turnovers and misfires on offensive and defensive execution did them in during the overtime session, which Corbin admitted. But he also praised them for trying hard.
"They made some mistakes," the coach said, "but they made aggressive mistakes."
The Jazz took Tuesday off and will resume organized practices today ahead of Friday's late-night showdown with the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. Corbin said he has some decisions to make in the meantime.
The health of regular starters Devin Harris (hamstring) and Andrei Kirilenko (knee) will play a factor in how much time he doles out to the new crew.
"We'll see where we are. I won't make that decision now, but it's something that we'll review," Corbin said. "We'll see what chances we have. We're still developing guys, but we still want to win ballgames. We're not going to completely throw everything in the scrap (pile)."
Asked if he envisions himself, Favors and Evans having larger roles in the future of the franchise, Hayward said he can only work on what he can control in the present.
"For me, I'm thinking about now, trying to win games. I'm not really thinking too off into the future," he said. "I'm thinking about tomorrow going into practice and getting better. That's all I can do right now."
Favors was just grateful for some extended action.
"I just want to come off the bench and bring energy, try to play hard and really affect the game," the 19-year-old said. "It was important to get out there and get the experience, and you just play."
STILL ALIVE: The Jazz have yet to be mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. With a 36-39 record and seven games remaining, Utah could still catch eighth-place Memphis (41-33). Of course, the 11th-place Jazz would also have to leapfrog Phoenix (36-36) and Houston (38-35).
SHALLOW BENCH: Utah has a total of 14 players on its roster, but only nine were able to play for the fourth quarter and overtime session Monday.
Mehmet Okur (back) is sidelined indefinitely, of course, and Harris and Kirilenko were both ruled out prior to tipoff. But Kyrylo Fesenko also missed the game because of a migraine headache, and Raja Bell was in the training room at the end because of a sprained foot.
It is unknown how many of those players will be available for Friday's ESPN-televised game vs. the Lakers.
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