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Utah Jazz notebook: Players, coaches try not to pay too much attention to playoff standings

Published: Friday, March 30 2012 11:05 p.m. MDT

The Utah Jazz players on the left call for the final shot by the Jazz to count as Charles Hayes of Sacramento motions it is no good. The final tip in didn't count and the Jazz lost to the Sacramento Kings in Salt Lake City, Friday, March 30, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Scoreboard watching is a highly popular pastime among the American sporting public.

It's generally associated with major league baseball, whose fans keep a close eye on how other teams are doing during the heat of a pennant race each summer and early fall.

But with the 2011-12 NBA campaign coming down the home stretch, the Utah Jazz and their fans definitely find themselves nervously doing some scoreboard watching of their own these days as well.

However, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and his players are trying hard to keep their own eyes focused on their opponents, and not on the scoreboard that shows how the other teams in the league have fared on a given night.

"I just worry about us," said Utah center Al Jefferson, the team's leading scorer and rebounder who has yet to reach the playoffs in his eight-year NBA career. "I used to do that because I'm not used to being in a playoff run, and Devin (Harris) said don't worry about everybody else, just keep winning games and everything will take care of itself. So that's what I'm doing.

"We're just taking it one game at a time. Coaches want us to take it one game at a time and worry about the team we're facing that night and not worry nothing else. Like Devin said, if we continue to win games, everything else is gonna work out and everything will be okay.

"When you get into that little, well, we want this team to lose and we win and this team lose, you get into that, that's kind of pointless," Jefferson said. "You get out there and take care of what you need to take care of, everything else will work out and everything will be fine."

Corbin admitted it's sometimes difficult not to cast an eye in the direction of those NBA scores on TV or the Internet, though, just to see what's transpired on a given night.

After all, at 27-25 after Friday night's frustating loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Jazz find themselves sitting in ninth place in the tight Western Conference playoff race — and only the top eight regular-season finishers will advance to the postseason.

"(I) try not to," Corbin said of the temptation to take a peek at the other NBA scores each night. "You watch and see what guys on other teams are doing, especially guys that we're playing against. But the teams we're playing against are the teams we're competing against for playoff spots.

"It can be nerve-wracking because every game or two it can change and we want to make sure we understand what's going on with us before we go into a situation where we're hoping somebody else loses so we can make up for it or whatever.

"We want to continue to just play well and I'll watch it and not try and go crazy doing it," he said.

The Jazz keep a grease-board in their locker room which lists the top Western Conference playoff contenders, and they update it with each passing day. With a red line of demarcation drawn to separate the haves and have-hots, it displays who's in — and out — of the playoffs.

"I know where we're at based on the white board in there (the locker room)," said second-year swingman Gordon Hayward, who two years ago was getting ready to lead his upstart Butler Bulldogs team into the NCAA's Final Four. "If we just focus on ourselves and not worry about that, if we win our games, we'll be fine. So that's all we can do."

Veteran power forward Paul Millsap admitted he does take a gander at the NBA scoreboard occasionally, but said that it's silly to spend too much time or energy worry about what other teams are doing.

"At the end of the day, we've got to worry about ourselves," he said. "At the end of the day, we've got to get wins."

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