SALT LAKE CITY — Happiness is … having a couple days off during a grueling NBA season.
And the Utah Jazz, having finished up their difficult back-to-back-to-back road trip on Tuesday, relished the opportunity to actually have two days to recover, regroup and get their legs back before Friday night's home game against the Washington Wizards.
"I didn't realize how tired I was until that third game, man," said Utah center Al Jefferson, the team's leading scorer and second-best rebounder.
"It seems like my legs was heavy, but these two days off really helped.
"We had a good practice (Thursday), and I got some rest Wednesday. I slept all day; I didn't wake up for nothing. It was good to get that rest."
Utah coach Tyrone Corbin, knowing that his team was exhausted after going 1-2 on its three-games-in-three-nights trip to Memphis, New Orleans and Oklahoma City, realized the importance of giving his guys something they won't see very often during this condensed NBA schedule: a day of rest.
And no, it wasn't on Sunday.
"After the back-to-back-to-back, the first day off (Wednesday) we just kind of took off and then (Thursday) we worked a little bit," he said. "You know guys are tired, and I understand that.
"We talked about, you know, everybody's tired, we've just got to make sure we do whatever we can to get our energy back up to be ready to finish up before the All-Star break (next weekend). The guys were good (Thursday) and I expect them to be great (Friday)."
And sure enough, they were, waxing the Wizards 114-100 — and it really wasn't that close — at EnergySolutions Arena.
That'll definitely bring a victory-hungry team some happiness, too.
RUNNING ON EMPTY: Corbin is being cautious with his players' minutes, knowing full well his team is getting worn out both physically and mentally.
"There's a lot of fatigue from the physical play of so many games in such a short amount of time," he said. "We played 25 games and then we have a back-to-back-to-back which kind of compounds the fatigue that you're already feeling.
"And now you've got four games in the next 6-7 days before the All-Star break, so we've got to make sure we give ourselves an opportunity to recover but also give ourselves a chance to stay sharp and get better at the things that we've been struggling at the last 10 ballgames."
BUTLER DID IT — TWICE: Utah's second-year swingman, Gordon Hayward, got a chance to see his college teammate, Wizards rookie guard Shelvin Mack, on Friday.
Hayward and Mack led unheralded Butler University on a memorable run to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament two years ago.
Hayward was just a sophomore when he averaged 15.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game during the 2009-10 season and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional played at EnergySolutions Arena.
And in the title game against Duke, his last-gasp, half-court shot at the final buzzer nearly went in, which would've given the underdog Bulldogs a stunning national championship in their first-ever Final Four appearance.
Last year as a junior, Mack led Butler to a repeat performance in the NCAA tourney's title game, as he was the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer (16.0 points per game), third-leading rebounder (4.5) and led the team in assists (3.4).
Asked after Friday morning's shootaround if he was planning on having a mini-reunion with Mack before the game, Hayward said he was.
"I think we might go out to lunch," he said. "So it'll be good to see him."
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