Utah Jazz: Mo Williams ready to go, Marvin Williams doubtful vs. Thunder
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
OKLAHOMA CITY — Mo Williams has made it obvious that it doesn't sit well with him to watch his teammates play while he's sidelined with injuries.
Unfortunately for the Utah Jazz's other Williams, Marvin, that's a likely scenario against Oklahoma City because of the way his head smacked the court in New Orleans during Wednesday's 96-84 win.
Having both Williamses is optimal, of course.
But one's certainly better than none for an overmatched Jazz squad hoping to pull off an upset against the defending Western Conference champions.
Missing three games with a sprained right forefoot has been three games too many as far as Mo Williams is concerned. Asked if he'll both suit up and play against the Thunder, he didn't hesitate in his response.
"For sure," he said, emphatically.
If Williams playing through thumb and groin issues earlier this season or his secret test-the-foot treadmill workout wasn't proof enough, then surely the fact he donned a Jazz uniform knowing full well he wouldn't play Wednesday in New Orleans offers ample verification.
"I knew I wasn't going to play," Williams said. "I just wanted to be out there with them."
At one point, the Jazz captain even walked with point guard Earl Watson by the scorer's table at the end of a timeout to share insight.
Talking to teammates is one thing.
Playing is another.
"It's nice to get him back any time," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "He'll be ready Friday."
That's why it might take a couple boxes of duct tape to keep him off the court tonight at Oklahoma City.
"I just don't like missing games, so I just have to do around-the-clock treatment with the training staff, doing what I've got to at home (or at hotels)," he said. "Just try to get back. It's depressing for me when I'm out."
It's much less likely Marvin Williams will see court time against the Thunder.
The Jazz small forward didn't practice Thursday and will continue to be tested for concussion symptoms until he successfully passes the NBA's stringent year-old policy.
The health of his players is Tyrone Corbin's utmost concern, and he was concerned about Williams after the hard crash to the court.
The coach also knows Utah (9-7) can use all the help possible against the Northwest Division-leading Thunder (12-4). Williams, the Jazz's starting small forward, would likely have been matched against OKC superstar Kevin Durant.
"We need all our bullets in our gun against those guys," Corbin said, "so we need to be ready."
The fact he'll face one of the league's toughest point guards might be what's making a return even more enticing for Mo Williams, who hasn't played since injuring his right foot in the first half of last Friday's home against Sacramento.
It's always good to test yourself against the best of the best, too.
"Oklahoma City is the team to beat, a great team, especially great at home," said Williams of the Thunder, who have an 8-2 home mark. "It'll be a tough task for us. We've just got to go in confident and click on all cylinders. We can't have an OK game and beat them."
The Jazz certainly can't duplicate the inconsistent effort they've had at times this season, which was the case in Utah's rollercoaster win Wednesday. New Orleans went eight minutes without scoring in the first half, but the Jazz only managed to take a two-point lead into the locker room before blowing the game open with a 31-17 third quarter.
"We're going to have to play 48 minutes," said Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward, who might see time against Durant. "We can't have lapses where they go on big runs, especially in their own building. I know they play especially well there and their crowd gets into it."
The Jazz haven't had much success against OKC in recent years. Utah is 6-9 against the Thunder since they skedaddled out of Seattle, including a 2-5 mark at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Utah does, however, have a one-game winning streak against Durant & Co., having beaten them last March. The Jazz's last win in Oklahoma came two Halloweens ago, a surprising 120-99 Thunder thumping.
"We've got to come ready to play," Jefferson said.
That's a better option than sitting out.
Just ask Mo.
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