Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz fans will have to get their trick-or-treating done early this fall if they want to see their team's 2012-13 NBA season-opener.
The Jazz tip off the new season — a non-compressed, regular one after last year's wild 66-game ride — at home on Halloween night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Five-and-a-half months later, the Jazz will wrap up their 82-game campaign on the road at Memphis on April 17.
The Jazz schedule favors a late-season push and presents an early challenge. Eleven of their 17 games through the end of November are on the road, including a three-game trip in New Orleans, San Antonio and Memphis after the Oct. 31 home-opener.
Utah plays eight of 15 December games away before settling into a more favorable home schedule.
"They're still making us play 41 on the road, though, not 33," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor joked.
Kidding aside, O'Connor and Jazz management are looking forward to having a regular season that is longer and gives more time between game days after a hectic and crunched slate last season.
One thing O'Connor said he noticed about the Jazz schedule: "All the days off."
That elicited chuckles, but he was mostly serious because it will afford the Jazz many more opportunities to improve on the practice court and in film sessions.
"I think what it does — especially for a team that's got good young players on it — it's going to give us a chance to teach a little bit more and correct," O'Connor said. "We had to worry so much about them physically last year, we really had to watch our practice time."
O'Connor rattled off more tidbits from the schedule: 17 back-to-backs, 22 road trips and seven of 10 games on the road to get things going.
The Jazz don't have any crazy long road trips, though. Their longest are three four-game swings.
The most notable of those journeys is the annual pre-Christmas road trip. It starts with a look at Deron Williams' new Brooklyn stomping grounds on Dec. 18 followed by games in Indiana (Dec. 19), Miami (Dec. 22) and Orlando (Dec. 23).
Utah will play 10 Western Conference teams four times (two home, two away), but will only face Dallas, Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio three times apiece.
Unlike last season, the Jazz will play all 15 Eastern Conference teams once on the road and once at home.
The Jazz will have six ESPN games, nine contests on NBA-TV but zero on TNT (subject to change). The Jazz's local broadcast schedule hasn't been announced yet.
Big home dates include: Steve Nash and the Lakers making their only Utah visit on Nov. 7; the NBA champion Heat coming to town on Jan. 14; and OKC invading ESA on Feb. 12 and April 9.
The Jazz don't play on Christmas Day or on Thanksgiving.
Utah will first host former BYU star Jimmer Fredette and his Sacramento Kings in a Black Friday special on Nov. 23. The Jazz and Sacramento then head back to Cow Town for a Saturday night game. The Kings play in Utah again on Feb. 4.
Most of the Jazz roster will be the same as last year, with key cogs Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter returning. However, the Jazz have made three additions to their squad this summer, trading to bring in point guard Mo Williams and small forward Marvin Williams and signing free agent shooting guard Randy Foye to a one-year deal.
Second-round draft pick Kevin Murphy of Tennessee Tech will have to make the team in fall camp, while Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley, NBA Dunk Champion Jeremy Evans and DeMarre Carroll are also expected to be back.
On Thursday, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor didn't rule out the team making more roster changes if management believes it can improve the squad.
The Jazz are coming off of a 36-30 lockout-shortened season in which they surprised many outsiders by qualifying for the playoffs. Utah was swept out of the first round in four games by San Antonio.
The NBA hasn't announced its teams' preseason schedule. Last year, teams only played two exhibition contests, but that number is usually about eight.
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