Vacation's over: Andrea Bargnani has Jazz's attention

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 1:00 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) takes the ball to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani (7). Utah Jazz plays the Toronto Raptors in NBA basketball at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Vacation's over for the Utah Jazz.

Canada's only (and favorite?) team is in town today for a 7 p.m. MT tipoff, ending the Jazz's three-day break from game action.

Some tidbits for tonight's only Jazz-Raptors game of the season from shootaround:

Despite the lede, it wasn't exactly a holiday for Utah coach Tyrone Corbin and crew.

They had Sunday off but then had what Corbin described as "a couple of really good practices" on Monday and Tuesday.

The Jazz had film sessions, reviewed defensive rotation responsibilities and communication, delved into execution of offensive sets (primary and secondary options), and worked returning small forward Josh Howard back into the mix.

"I think we needed the time on the practice floor," Corbin said.

Italian big man Andrea Bargnani came off of a calf injury with a 36-point bang in Toronto's win at Phoenix on Tuesday night. After missing six straight, the 7-footer played 42 minutes against the Suns.

"We're going to have to go out there and treat him like we treat Dirk (Nowitzki)," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "We've just got to be ready. It's going to be a team defense."

Bargnani went 4-for-6 from 3-point range and his dribble-penetration game has improved, so he should be a handful for the Jazz bigs.

"He's caused matchup problems all across the league," said Jazz power forward Paul Millsap, who'll probably get the first crack at Bargnani.

Corbin said the team D will have to be sharp. Focus will be on containing the Italian, so weakside rotations will be important to keep other Raptors from going off.

The 5-13 Raptors had lost eight straight before Tuesday's 99-96 win at Phoenix.

The Jazz (10-5) have won four of five and nine of their last 11 games.

Jefferson left the shootaround before most other players. Corbin said Big Al "was having something with his leg," but didn't know the details. Asked about it, Jefferson said he feels fine, joking that he should've heeded his mother's advice to go bathroom before.

No leg problems?

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jefferson said. "No, I'm good."

Any other body parts injured?

"No," he said, laughing. "Everything's good with me."

Jefferson said the Jazz will continue to focus on strong starts. The coaching staff is strongly emphasizing good play during the first four minutes of every quarter.

Howard's time will be limited, but Corbin said the team's third-leading scorer will play tonight after missing the past four games with a strained left quadriceps.

Corbin called it "my number" when asked how long he plans to play Howard.

Jokingly asked if the number was between 15 and 30, Corbin quickly quipped: "Between one and 48."

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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