Utah Jazz starting lineup named; Millsap to play

Favors, Hayward will join veterans Harris, Bell and Jefferson

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 27 2011 7:57 p.m. MST

LOS ANGELES — The Utah Jazz finally have an announced starting lineup.

And like the team, it's an infusion of young and old.

Second-year up-and-comers Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward will join veterans Devin Harris, Raja Bell and Al Jefferson on the court at tipoff time for tonight's season-opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was questionable coming into tonight, but last year's starting power forward, Paul Millsap, will play in the 8:30 p.m. Staples Center showdown against this 0-2 L.A. team.

Millsap's right quadriceps tendinitis flare-up and iffy status did not factor into second-year coach Tyrone Corbin's decision-making process on the starters.

Corbin likes the mix of experience and youthful talent, along with the increased size this starting combo offers Utah.

"I think the lineup gives us a chance to be versatile," Corbin said. "Also what we have coming off the bench will give us a chance to be strong on both ends."

This move does several things for the Jazz's frontcourt. First off, Favors is a 6-foot-10, so he gives Utah a couple more inches inside than the 6-foot-8 Millsap.

Likewise, the 6-8 Hayward has two inches on Miles, so Utah is putting a bigger product on the court.

It also shows a commitment and confidence Corbin has placed on the future of the franchise with Favors and Hayward.

"(Favors) played hard. He improved from last year," Corbin said. "He's showed that he's ready to take a step forward, taking nothing away from other guys. He gives us a chance to be versatile."

The Jazz coach emphasized over and over that this is not a benching for Millsap, who wants to be the starter. Same goes for C.J. Miles, who began the first preseason game and came into camp hoping to win a starting job.

Rather, Corbin complimented both players for working hard and being in great shape.

"We want everybody to be ready to play, that's the main thing," Corbin said. "Don't worry about who's staring or who's getting the glory. We want to go out and (give) the Jazz a chance to win the game."

Millsap was a bit more subdued than usual after this morning's shootaround. He's disappointed that his quad was re-aggravated at practice Monday "out of nowhere." The pain is tolerable, he said, but he also realizes the Jazz have six games in the next eight days. That's forcing him to take a smarter approach to getting back on the court.

As for starting, Millsap has been upfront — with media and his coach — about his desire to keep the position he had all last season.

"(Coach) knows me, he knows my preference. I also know that I'm a team player," Millsap said. "If the coach says that it will help our team, then I've got to be willing to do whatever."

Added Corbin: "I want him to be a little disappointed (but) I don't want him to think of it as a demotion."

Millsap, entering his sixth season, said he'll use this as a source of motivation.

"I don't see it (as) going back to the bench. I'm going to play minutes," Millsap said. "It's tough to have your mind set on something and then not happen, so I started the season off thinking I was going to be a starter. But going to the bench is not always a bad thing. You've got to look at it in a positive sense. Just do the best I can with that."

Corbin is excited about the reserve weapons he has at his disposal, with Millsap, Miles, Josh Howard, Jeremy Evans et al.

"With the change," he said, "it gives us a chance to be stronger off the bench."

As for captains, Corbin is no hurry to assign leaders at this point. That situation, he believes, will play itself out as the season progresses.

The Jazz's season debut — and the Lakers third game in as many nights — will be televised on TNT.

The Lakers will be without starting center Andrew Bynum, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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