Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Preseason records don’t mean a whole lot — witness the Lakers’ dreadful 0-8 mark this year, including seven home losses. Is there anyone who thinks the Lakers won’t be any good this year?
Still, the Utah Jazz were happy with their 5-3 preseason mark, which included a pair of double-digit victories over the Lakers in L.A., a big home win over Oklahoma City and a couple of close losses. Only Philadelphia and Minnesota had a larger point differential than the Jazz in preseason games.
Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was pleased with how his team performed in its October games and feels it is in pretty good shape heading into the regular-season opener Wednesday night at home against Dallas.
“Absolutely, from the first day of training camp until now, we made great strides,’’ he said. “Our approach to every game was very good. We continue to make steps every game.’’
Corbin’s biggest disappointment was the play of his team in the first half of Monday’s game at Portland when the Jazz fell behind by 24 points. However, he was happy in way they bounced back to make it a six-point game and continued the momentum in Thursday night’s win over the Trail Blazers.
GOOD HEADACHE: One of the biggest challenges for the Jazz will be how to distribute the minutes for a team that looks deeper than in the past. In Thurday’s final preseason game, Corbin played 10 players between 20 and 28 minutes. That won’t happen during the regular season, but the Jazz coach will have to figure out a way to keep his players happy.
“It’s a good thing for us,’’ he said. “It will be frustrating for the players at times. Guys deserve minutes on the floor, and it’s going to be a thing we have to manage all year long. It’s going to be a good headache for us, if you want to call it a headache. But it’s a good situation for the team.’’
“We’ll see where it goes,’’ Corbin added. “This is a deep team, everybody’s going to need to be ready to play. The times and minutes will be different for different guys depending on the match-ups. We just want everybody to be ready to play.’’
FAVORS-KANTER COMBO: Before the season, there was a lot of speculation that third-year player Derrick Favors was ready to move into a permanent starting role. He got better as the preseason progressed and had his best game Thursday night by scoring 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
However, Corbin seems happy to keep him coming off the bench in tandem with second-year center Enes Kanter, who also scored 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting Thursday night. That means Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will continue to start at the inside positions.
“There’ll be times when we mix it up, but I think they’re learning how to work with each other very well,’’ Corbin said of his two young players. “They give us a great advantage against most second teams. What they can do offensively and defensively with their size and agility is a great thing for us.’’
BETTER DEFENSE: With four days until the opening game, Corbin says defense will be the focus.
“We have to get better defensively, which was one of our focuses coming into training camp, and we’ve show some signs in the exhibition season,’’ he said. “We’re going to fine-tune some things the next four or five days. There’s still a lot a room for growth, but we’re in a pretty good place right now.’’
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