SALT LAKE CITY — Coach Tyrone Corbin repeated one word multiple times at the Utah Jazz's practice Friday morning.
The Jazz's chances of somehow sneaking back into their first-round series against San Antonio after two blowout losses to the Spurs rely on his team's ability to do that.
Utah executed very well down the stretch of the season, when it won seven of nine games to earn an unexpected playoff spot. But the Jazz have struggled to execute their game plan — from Al Jefferson in the paint, to Devin Harris at the point, to the wings on the perimeter — and now find themselves trailing the powerful Spurs two games to none.
"We've got to play better," Corbin said. "We talked about (player) rotations and changing lineups. Really, without playing better it's difficult to see, and that's all across the board. We all have to play better."
Jefferson and Harris, who've both struggled against the Spurs, agreed that it's a team thing.
"This is a challenge for everybody. Everybody know they got to step up and try to stay alive," Jefferson said. "Game 3 is a very important game. Getting down 3-0 is going to be really difficult, so this is a very important game."
Game 3 is an 8 p.m. tipoff Saturday on TNT, and the Spurs could put Utah in a huge hole with a win. San Antonio won the first two games by a combined 46 points in the Alamo City.
"It's all the way around. Interior guys, we've got to play better. Perimeter guys, we've got to play better. Defensively, we've got to play better," Harris said. "It's our chance to impose our will on them. We've played better at home. We've done it all season long, and now we've got to show it."
The Jazz went 25-8 at EnergySolutions Arena, but one of those losses came to the full-strength Spurs. Utah edged San Antonio when its Big Three stayed home to rest.
"We've got to do something different. We're going to have to knock down a few jump shots. We know that," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "They're clogging the lane up so much that we can't even get anything at the basket. If we knock down a few jump shots, open it up, make them adjust it a little bit, we'll be fine."
Corbin admitted he needs to find more time for second-year big man Derrick Favors, who has been a difference-maker and especially on the defensive end. The Spurs went on their 20-0 run after Favors went to the bench in Wednesday's 114-83 blowout win.
Corbin also said the Jazz need to get Big Al the ball deeper in the paint, make crisper cuts and better passes, and play with energy.
"We have to execute our plays," he added.
Though soft-spoken at practice, Jefferson said the Jazz still feel confident they can make a series of this.
"It's been a roller-coaster ride for us all year. We've been through it," he said. "We always find a way to bounce back. We've got one more bounce back in us."
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