SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA's compacted 66-game schedule lends itself to more injuries and less time to recover from the aches and pains of playing back-to-back nights or three games in four nights.
It also leads to a bunch of strained and pained players like the Jazz had at the end of their 85-73 win over Milwaukee. Both Josh Howard (strained left quad) and Devin Harris (strained left calf) left early with injuries.
Thus, team trainers like Utah's Gary Briggs, will take on an even more vital role this season in keeping players on the court.
"We're playing so many games so fast, the guys' bodies are beat up and you want to try and give them a chance to get their feet back under them as soon as you can," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But you need to have the time together to continue to develop."
Film sessions and shootarounds are longer now than they will be later, Corbin explained.
"You have to make sure that the guys understand what you want them to do, and I have a feel for what they think will give them a batter chance to succeed, too," he said. "So there's a little more input from the player and that's just so we make sure we're on the same page as much as we can as soon as we can."
Knowing players' bodies respond on their own time schedule, Corbin said they have to be careful because they can't "overload" guys and expect them to perform as well in games.
"Games are coming back-to-back," Harris said, "and we knew that coming in and honestly we can't do much about it but just try to take care of our bodies and just try to focus. We have less practice time so we've got to fix a lot of this stuff in in-game situations."
PRACTICE?: The Jazz had their first home back-to-back Monday and Tuesday games since November of 2008. With that scheduling quirk, came another oddity: a shootaround on the morning of the second game.
Usually, the Jazz have a late-morning breakfast meeting to discuss strategy for that night's game.
"We need to continue to develop," Corbin said. "It's an opportunity to get the guys out of bed for a little bit, just to come over and do some things, get their blood flowing a little bit."
The players didn't mind — after they woke up later than usual, that is.
"It's good to get up, get moving, get our heartrate up instead of just sleeping and being lazy," Al Jefferson said. "I didn't want to hear it, but once we got up it's best for us to do it because we're a young team."
Added C.J. Miles: "Anytime you get a chance to be able to sit down and talk about things and break things down, you've got to take it."
NO FREEBIES: Jefferson averaged 3.6 free throws per game in his first seven seasons. But coming into Tuesday's game, the center had only taken six in four games in 2011-12.
That, despite making 67 field-goal attempts.
Corbin couldn't put his finger on why Jefferson hadn't gotten more trips to the charity stripe.
"I don't think he's taken a huge number of shots from the perimeter. He's going inside," Corbin said. "He's just got to keep playing it out and hopefully the calls will come."9 comments on this story
"I ain't concerned about it," Big Al said Tuesday morning. "I've got to do a better job of getting to the free-throw line, and once I get there I have to make that."
Finally, that happened. Jefferson went to the line nine times, hitting six foul shots, against Milwaukee.
BAKER'S DOZEN: Corbin admits he's still tinkering with rotations, and that will continue for a while. He also likes the players he has to choose from when he looks down the bench.
"I feel great about all of the guys on this team, putting them in the game," he said. "That's the encouraging thing. We've got 13 guys, and I feel good about 13 in the game."