Utah Jazz: Earl Watson gets backup point guard job back

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 10:04 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson, left, spins to the basket against the defense of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Elise Amendola, AP

BOSTON — Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin is abiding by the traditional NBA rule that players don't lose their positions because of injuries.

At least he is now.

For the second straight game, Earl Watson was the Jazz's No. 2 point guard Wednesday in Boston.

That call came at the expense of Jamaal Tinsley, who played in place of Watson while he was injured and for the ensuing week after his return from getting laser treatment on his sprained left ankle.

Watson ended up logging almost 14 minutes in the 94-82 loss to the Celtics, but Tinsley didn't get any playing time.

"Earl was hurt. He's back healthy," Corbin said after Wednesday's shootaround. "I told both guys, (it will) take us a little while to see what gives us the best chance. But I like what both guys bring. They lead their group pretty well."

Tinsley said Corbin's decision was the "nature of the business," but he understands his coach has to make "tough" choices.

"It is what it is. Just wait for another opportunity," Tinsley said. "It was good while it lasted. I'll do the same thing I've been doing … cheer, help my teammates, work out, be ready when my number (is) called."

Watson was a bit frustrated when he didn't play last week, because he thought his ankle had healed enough to go. But Corbin wanted to let him stay out as long as it needed for his ankle to get 100 percent, especially considering Tinsley was playing so well and the Jazz were winning.

Watson, a John Wooden disciple who wants to be a coach after he retires, tried to make the most of it.

"When I wasn't playing, I was looking at the game from a coach's standpoint, figuring out styles of play," he said. "Start my retirement career early."

SCOREBOARDWATCHING: When looking at the standings, Corbin believes the top three spots are pretty set in the Western Conference between Oklahoma City, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the Jazz still have a shot at any of the spots from four to eight, he believes. Utah is currently in the No. 7 spot, tied with Houston and Denver at 27-24.

"You just want to make sure you're winning and playing as best as you can," Corbin said. "And who knows where it will fall. We'll just see. We're in good position to improve where we are."

Corbin admitted he keeps tabs on the scores of other teams in the mix, whether it be on his smartphone on the bus or plane or on his laptop or iPad in the hotel.

"I would like to focus more on how we're playing and what we've got going on," Corbin said. "I just try not to run myself crazy watching it too much."

STILLNOBELL: The team doesn't have an update yet on veteran guard RajaBell, who has an appointment in Miami today to get a third opinion on what to do with his ailing left knee that might need microfracture surgery.

BIRTHDAYWISH: Corbin on hearing Wednesday was Hall of Fame coach JerrySloan's 70th birthday: "Wow. Life is good. You've got to just keep growing and keep having birthdays."

For that matter, Corbin couldn't believe JohnStockton turned 50 on Monday: "Did he really?"

That big birthday is still eight months away for the 49-year-old Jazz coach, whose birthday is on NewYear's Eve.

Email: jody@desnews.com

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Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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