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Team time before turkey time for Utah Jazz

Published: Thursday, Nov. 22 2012 2:10 p.m. MST

Mo Williams rebounded basketballs for his three young sons before Utah Jazz practice on Thanksgiving morning. Williams' three basketball players sported the jerseys of three of his teammates — Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams.

Jody Genessy

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SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday wasn't just a day of football, feasting, family and fuzzy feelings for the Utah Jazz.

Sure, there was plenty of time to be thankful and enjoy all that other Thanksgiving Day tradition.

But with a game Friday night against the Kings — and a rubber match in Sacramento on Saturday — there was work to be done. Before any pies or stuffing were inhaled, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin put his players through a morning practice.

"We've got a game (Friday), and Sacramento won one (Wednesday) night, so we're going to get some work in before everybody go and eat," Corbin said. "Typically, before a game we've got to tail back a little bit, but we've got to work a little bit to get our bodies going and be ready for tomorrow."

Corbin said the Jazz have used the past two days of practice — after an equally rare day off Tuesday — to work on "fine-tuning" aspects of the team's defensive and offensive execution. This is the first time since the season began on Halloween night that Utah has had three full days between games.

The biggest emphasis, Corbin said, has been on improving screens.

"We need to make sure that we get better at setting screens," he said, "and laying on them for a while until we got what we want before we go on to the secondary part of (the offense)."

After reviewing game film, Corbin has noticed that his players are rolling out of picks too much — a far cry from what stellar screeners like John Stockton used to do while freeing up teammates.

"We're not getting a solid hit on the guy," he said.

Corbin said there are multiple important aspects when it comes to screens.

"The guy receiving the screen," he explained, "has to do a better job of slowing down and setting his man up."

That allows Jazz players to get the ball closer to the basket, allowing for easier plays. With the fall further out, Corbin explained that the secondary defense gets a chance to recover.

"If we're catching it in tight off a good screen," he added, "now we're in good proximity to make an easier basket."

After Monday's win over Houston, Corbin admitted to not being sold on the Jazz's new starting lineup that includes the Big Three of Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson along with guards Mo Williams and Randy Foye.

But the coach wasn't quite ready to divulge whether or not that group will start tonight against the Kings.

That starting five has gotten off to a rough start, falling behind the Wizards 15-2 and then stumbling out of the gate Monday against the Rockets. Utah did rally to win both games, thanks in part to the bench boost the Jazz got from starters-turned-cavalry-crew members Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams.

Corbin said he has a starting five in mind, but he wanted to solidify his decision and further evaluate before announcing it. For him, the most important thing is finding a combination that gives the Jazz the "best chance" to have good match-ups with the Kings.

Before that happens, though, there were Turkey Day meals to devour.

"You would hope they (players) are smart about what they eat," Corbin said. "Guys are on a pretty strict diet, so they won't overdo it I don't think."

He smiled and added, "I will."

Don't expect Corbin to share any cooking tips.

"Let's get that straight right now, I do the eating part," he said, laughing. "If I cook it, don't eat it. I'm not good around the stove."

Corbin has some family in town to share the holiday, and he had a game plan set out for his day, which he joked would include him saying "Yes, dear" a lot.

Added Corbin: "I'm going to go home. I'm going to just be quiet, take the trash out when I need to take the trash out, and eat a lot."

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com

TWITTER: DJJazzyJody

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