SALT LAKE CITY — Jamaal Tinsley usually has a pre-game exercise routine, but he was told “not to do a lot” before Saturday night’s game with Phoenix. It turned out that starting point guard Mo Williams was a late scratch because of a strained muscle in his thigh, putting Tinsley in the starting point guard spot.
As it turned out, Tinsley did a lot in the 94-81 victory as he dished out 14 assists — his best total in five seasons — and directed a Jazz offense that got the ball into the big men better than in any previous game.
“I thought he was great,’’ said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. “It’s difficult and people don’t understand how when somebody goes down and you actually start and play the minutes... he got us into the stuff we needed to get into.’’
Tinsley, a nine-year NBA veteran, said it wasn’t a big deal to suddenly be on the floor 41 minutes instead of the 10 or 15 that he’s usually plays with the Jazz.
“I’m used to it,’’ he said. “Whatever they need from me I try to go out and do my best and play hard. I try to stay ready and control what you can control.’’
Tinsely didn’t score a point on the night, but had six assists in the first quarter when the Jazz ran out to a 10-point lead and had 10 assists by half. That’s more than Williams has had in an entire game this year. Tinsley picked up two more assists in the third quarter and then had two down the stretch to Al Jefferson to help put the game away.
“I had the opportunity to play more minutes,’’ Tinsley said. “It always feels good to win a game, whether I have two or three assists.’’
Tinsley will likely go back to the bench when Williams returns to the lineup, but Corbin is glad he can count on his veteran point guard.
“I just respect his professionalism,’’ Corbin said. “Of all the time he’s been here, he has always been ready when we have called on him and he has done everything we have asked him to do and I really appreciate that.’’
ROAD TRIP: The Jazz are 0-4 on the road this year and now they embark on a week-long road trip with four games in six days, beginning Monday in Toronto. From there, the Jazz go to Boston Wednesday, Philadelphia Friday and Washington Saturday.
Corbin gets tired of talking about the Jazz road woes, but he says they need to start playing like they do at home.
“This is what we need,’’ said. “We have to transfer our effort at home on the road and do it for 48 minutes. We’ve talked about it and talked about it and now we have to go out and do it. We’ve talked about it enough.’’
Beisides this week, the Jazz have two other four-games-in-six days road trips — one the week before Christmas and the other in the second week of March.
HONORING VETS: With Veterans Day on Sunday, the Jazz celebrated Saturday night with Military Appreciation Night. The Jazz had donated numerous tickets to active military and veterans and honored several service members during timeouts. Before the game, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Myers sang the national anthem with the Hill Air Force Base Honor Guard presenting the colors. At halftime, the BYU Air Force ROTC drill team performed. Between the third and fourth quarters, anyone who had served in the military was asked to stand and be recognized.
JAZZ NOTES: Mo Williams sat on the bench near the coaches nattily dressed in a gray suit with a light purple shirt and purple tie. He also was wearing some of those black-rimmed glasses that are so popular with NBA players off the court, although it looked like they had actual glass in them . . . At the end of the first half, Goran Dragic was whistled for a technical foul for apparently saying something to an official. So the second half started with, Gordon Hayward shooting a free throw for the Jazz. Alas, he missed . . . Randy Foye, who played so well in the home win earlier in the week when he made five 3-pointers against the Lakers, couldn’t hit a thing Saturday. Foye finished 0 for 7 from the field, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range . . . The Jazz made just two of 14 3-pointers on the night for 14.3 percent.