Brad Rock: Utah Jazz: Corbin should turn things over to younger Jazz players

Published: Sunday, May 6 2012 9:43 p.m. MDT

Tiago Splitter #22 of the San Antonio Spurs takes a shot against Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 29, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the Jazz have entered what Shakespeare termed "that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns," it seems only natural to consider the future, as well as the present.

It's not like they're going to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.

All that remains from here are details, such as how soon and how convincingly the Spurs end it.

With that in mind, why doesn't coach Ty Corbin just go ahead and play all kids, all the time, until the Jazz are eliminated? Why not toss them the keys and tell them to have the car home by 11?

Win or lose on Monday, it would be invaluable playoff experience.

This is as good a time as any to let the youngsters know they're needed, wanted and trusted. The veterans?

They had their chance.

That isn't to say players like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Devin Harris are useless. It's just that everyone knows how far they'll go against the Spurs: To the end of the driveway, at best. Why not make it interesting? The Jazz can't lose worse than they have already. In Wednesday's game they trailed by 38.

Much has been made of the fact the Jazz have seven young players, none of whom had been in a playoff game until last week. A less obvious fact is that Corbin himself is learning, too. He has seen many playoff games as both coach and player, but never from the commander's seat.

In just his second year as a head coach, he has experimented with lineup and substitution patterns, sometimes appearing unsure of his plan. At the same time, he got the Jazz into the playoffs — an impressive development by itself.

"I've learned lessons the first time, and I feel really good about where we're at, where I am," Corbin said of his growth as a coach.

Yet Jazz have lost three games by a total of 58 points, failing to adequately defend the paint, the perimeter or the break. The Spurs have had their way.

Meanwhile, the veteran players have been far from convincing. Millsap is shooting just 50 percent from the free throw line. Jefferson hasn't even been getting to the line. That's because he has been taking his jump-hooks a step too far out, or simply pulling up for mid-range jumpers.

And while Harris was exceptional for the first 10 minutes on Saturday, scoring 12 points, he was previously just 5-16 from the field with 12 points.

It's not the kids that are killing the Jazz, it's mostly the uneven play of the veterans.

When the Jazz cut San Antonio's 13-point lead to five in the fourth quarter on Saturday, the lineup consisted of Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, DeMarre Carroll, Enes Kanter and Jamaal Tinsley, the latter being the only player with playoff experience. The Spurs' lead was back to eight when the veterans returned (Jefferson, Millsap, Harris), but they only let it stretch to 13.

What the Jazz need here is someone too ignorant to know it's hopeless.

Youth, last refuge of the optimist.

Corbin might even buy into such a plan. On Saturday he played Favors 32 minutes, a playoff high. Kanter and Burks played more minutes on Wednesday, but that's because the Jazz trailed by 38 at one point. Corbin had thrown in the towel.

Nobody is saying Corbin should give up, just put it in the hands of the children. Roll with Gordon Hayward, Blake Ahearn, Jeremy Evans, Burks, Favors, Kanter, and Carroll, rather than Millsap, Jefferson, Harris, Tinsley, Raja Bell and Josh Howard.

None of this is likely to garner a win. Heaven knows the kids aren't playing better than the older ones. Hayward, a starter, is shooting just 23 percent for the series. Favors has played well, averaging nine rebounds, but is still under 40 percent shooting. Kanter and Burks, too, are at 40 percent or below. Evans remains more a curiosity piece than a contributor.

In a situation like this, where playoff experience was a stated goal, why not give it to them?

When it comes to kids, all they sometimes need is the trust to let them soar.

email: rock@desnews.com, Twitter: therockmonster, Facebook: rockmonsterunplugged

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