Utah Jazz: End-of-bench guys seeing more time

Published: Sunday, Dec. 2 2012 9:56 p.m. MST

Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) passes off in the last second as the Utah Jazz defeat the Denver Nuggets 105-103 as they play NBA basketball Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — DeMarre Carroll often credits former teammate Tony Allen for being a good mentor and example to him in the early stages of his NBA career.

One big lesson Carroll gleaned from the Memphis guard, whose hard-nosed-hustle style he emulates, was to keep working hard even when playing time was nonexistent or limited.

That habit paid off for Carroll — and the Utah Jazz — when he was recently drawn back into the regular rotation after not being called off the bench for a handful of games.

With a string of injuries, more time has become available for the guys on the end of the bench — just as Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin had reminded them would potentially happen since training camp started.

The Jazz could be without starting small forward Marvin Williams (concussion symptoms) and backup big man Derrick Favors (strained right arch) again Monday when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.

Utah just welcomed point guard Mo Williams (foot) back to the starting lineup last week, and it got a scare Saturday when Randy Foye hobbled off the court and missed a few minutes with a jammed big toe.

"There's some moving pieces. That's what we talked about … staying ready," Corbin said. "It's a long season. You can't sit over there and pout about your minutes when you're not getting them and then the opportunity becomes available and you're not ready."

Marvin Williams' headache issues opened up another starting opportunity for Carroll, who's played well since being afforded playing chances in the past nine games. Before that, the forward hadn't played in five of six games.

Someone was paying attention to how that series of events unfolded.

Burks.

"You never know," the guard said Saturday night. "You've always got to be ready. I took that from DC."

In losses Friday and Saturday, Burks played for 14 minutes against both the Thunder and the Rockets as Marvin Williams' absence also freed up time for him. That was more than the second-year shooting guard had played in the previous 10 games combined.

"I just can control what I can control," Burks said. "Just played hard when I'm out there and see what happens; let everything else take care of itself."

With Favors going out in the first half Friday due to plantar fasciitis, second-year center Enes Kanter played a pivotal role and scored a career-high 18 in Utah's comeback bid in Oklahoma City.

Favors had an MRI test on his ailing right foot Sunday, and it's uncertain whether he'll be available to play.

Last year, the 6-10 forward said a pinkie injury was no big deal because, he said, "I'm a man," so Favors' prediction that he'd play Monday after missing Saturday's game was not much of a surprise.

"It's nothing too serious," Favors said before giving himself a potential new nickname. "I heal fast. I'm like Wolverine."

If the X-Man/defensive X-factor can't go, Kanter and Jeremy Evans are obvious extra-minute candidates. Evans played seven minutes in Houston after not playing in the five past games and getting just eight minutes in 13 previous contests combined.

"The guys are responding well," Corbin said. "It takes a little while to get the chemistry going when you get different guys in there, but we have enough talent to work our way through it."

Burks had his best game of the season Saturday, scoring a season-high 11 points and getting complimented for his defense on Houston star James Harden.

Foye lauded both Burks and Kanter for their weekend showings.

"I'm not surprised," said Foye, who had another good performance with 20 points in Houston. "I see them every day in practice. I see them working out before games, after practice working out, so it's not nothing new to me."

They haven't complained about their playing time, but Burks has only averaged 9.4 minutes this season after logging 15.9 mpg as a rookie. Evans has only seen a total of 25 minutes in five games, while Kanter has played 14.2 minutes an outing.

Each, no doubt, would relish a bigger role.

"We just showed we should be playing," Burks said. "We're a deep team. Everybody knows that. We're just fighting hard, trying to win."

Corbin doesn't disagree with Burks' assessment. Foye's stellar play this season has taken minutes away from Burks, and the Jazz coach has repeated his preference to put players in for more than just a token minute or two at a time so they can get into a good rhythm.

"He'll continue to work, and opportunities will continue to present themselves," Corbin said. "I feel good about all the guys on this team. I'm not hesitant of putting them in the game."

Depending on injuries, the coach might not have a choice.

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