Ben Brewer, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz will face the Denver Nuggets tonight at EnergySolutions Arena without the services of one starter and one guy who likely wouldn't have played much anyway.
Starting point guard Mo Williams said his moderately sprained right forefoot is doing "a lot better," but he will miss his second straight game because of the injury.
Willams hasn't attempted to run on his foot yet — and he's still sporting a walking boot — but he's hoping to be back in action when the Jazz kick off their three-game road trip in New Orleans in a couple of days.
"We're shooting for Wednesday," said Williams, adding that he still feels soreness when he tries to twist and turn his foot.
It's likely the Jazz will start Jamaal Tinsley in his place for the second straight game. Backup Earl Watson said he continues to feel well after returning from knee surgery on Friday.
Barring something unexpected, the Jazz won't have reserve-shooting guard Kevin Murphy around for the next couple of weeks.
The organization officially assigned Murphy to the Reno Bighorns of the D-League. He was escorted to his temporary team by Jazz director of basketball operations Richard Smith, and he'll be evaluated in practice and games by more Jazz personnel, including general manager Dennis Lindsey and head scout David Fredman.
"It's an open-ended assignment," Lindsey said. "We will evaluate it after the first five games and then make a determination after that point."
Reno's next game is this Friday against the recently relocated Santa Cruz Warriors — formerly Dakota Wizards.
The NBA and D-League recently came to an agreement to stream games live on YouTube, so Jazz fans will have an opportunity to watch Murphy in action via computer.
Lindsey said the Jazz are hoping Murphy will work on a variety of things while he's in the D-League. The GM listed several items, including a desire for him "to really focus defensively," to be a good teammate, to be "very appreciative of being in professional basketball," and to not try to light up the scoreboard with offensive numbers. "We don't want him to be a pig scorer," Lindsey said, " ... We want him to play basketball the right way, meaning score when he needs to score, pass when he needs to pass. Really, our evaluation of him is not going to be you go score 40 points and we're bringing you back to the Jazz." Lindsey added that Murphy has to earn his playing time with Reno. The NBA team isn't about to insist to Bighorns coach Paul Mokeski that the Jazz's second-round pick get preferential treatment.
"If his role is 40 seconds, it needs to be professional and thankful. If it's 40 minutes, the same thing," Lindsey said. "We're not going to go tell the Reno program that you've got to play Kevin X-amount of minutes with this role and this amount of shots. That doesn't happen here."
Added Lindsey: "Kevin needs to earn those things even in the D-league. We want him to be very professional with his approach to the coaching staff. ... How he approaches coaches and teammates is every important."
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