PORTLAND, Ore. — Coming into the season, the Utah Jazz wanted to be in the mix of things by the time the postseason arrived.
"You want to have a chance, and we've got a chance," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We kind of control our own destiny. It's just handling our business, which is all that we can do."
Utah (32-30) has a chance to stay in the thick of it with a win tonight at the Rose Garden against the Blazers (28-34).
Corbin has warned his team to not take this game for granted, despite how Portland has been eliminated and doesn't have the services of injured All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Tonight's game is an 8 p.m. tipoff (ROOT Sports).
"We've got to make sure tonight we don't fall for the trap," Corbin said. "These guys are probably going to be loose. They have nothing to lose. They're going to shoot shots. They're going to shoot 3-pointers. They're going to run it down the floor."
Corbin said his team needs to focus on execution, setting hard screens, being aggressive and physical on defense and rotating well.
"We have a chance to get into the playoffs," Corbin said. "We want to finish the season strong and get in the playoffs and we'll see what happens there. ... It'd be a great experience for us to continue to grow with playoff experience."
Down the season's stretch, don't expect any changes to the starting lineup, which has included Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
Corbin would love to have both Josh Howard and Raja Bell back by the end of the season. The biggest reason: "Experience." It could also bolster the Jazz's thin depth situation, seeing as Utah only has 11 players available. "They've both been in the playoffs before," Corbin said. "It would be two more assets for us to be able to use."
Corbin believes this type of experience during crunch time of the season with the playoffs on the line will be invaluable to his players in the future.1 comment on this story
"It's a good time to be playing for a young group of guys trying to figure our way out," he said. "It's pressure. It's important that you play and learn how to play with the kind of pressure on you, so it's a great time for us."
The NBA is expected to officially announce a punishment ruling on Dallas guard Delonte West, who poked his finger in the ear of Jazz guard Gordon Hayward in Monday's triple-overtime thriller. Jazz broadcaster David Locke tweeted out that the NBA will fine West $25,000 with no suspension, but the league hasn't announced anything yet.
Jazz CEO Greg Miller isn't about to give up the team's nickname.