SALT LAKE CITY — Yawn. Stretch. Play.
After a restful break the past nine days, which included multiple days off, only a few practices and just one game, the Utah Jazz are back at it again tonight at EnergySolutions Arena against the improved Washington Wizards.
Forward Marvin Williams said the time off was just what the Jazz needed after a tough first half of the season, which included 24 road games and a packed schedule prior to this respite.
"When it was time to get back to work, guys really came in with a positive attitude," Williams said. "We came in with a lot of energy. We worked as hard as we could, so I definitely think it was great on our part. It was great that the coach gave us that time off as well."
Tonight's game kicks off a stretch in which the Jazz play eight of 10 games in the next 17 days at ESA, where they have a 13-4 record. Utah, now 22-19 overall, brings a three-game winning streak into this contest against the Wizards, who are only 9-30 but have won five of seven.
"I think guys are really excited about getting back home. There were a few of us who didn't really realize how many road games we'd played," Williams said. "Now that we're back home, I think guys are really looking forward to taking advantage of our home-court advantage."
More short shots from the Jazz's shootaround:
— On what grade Utah deserves at the midseason mark:
Randy Foye and Marvin Williams gave the Jazz a B. Gordon Hayward was a bit tougher at B-.
And Al Jefferson?
"I think we're a good high C," Big Al said, making reporters wonder if he was referring to the fruit punch, the musical note or school grades. "That's all I made in high school, so I'm familiar with that."
Added Big Al: "We've got room for improvement."
— Williams on the surging Wizards, who've beaten Denver and Portland on their current road trip:
"They're a very tricky team. You look at their record and you feel like they might not be the best team in the league. But they go out there and play like it. That makes them a very dangerous team.
"With John Wall coming back, that really gave them a huge lift. It will be a tough game for us tonight, for sure."
— Gordon Hayward about his recent Sundance Film Festival experience:
"I went there, just had some pizza and walked around. I didn't get a chance to go see any movies, but it was pretty crazy. There was a lot of people."
Any star stalking?
"Who'd we see? James Franco, he came out of a building and everybody was all excited to see him, so that was pretty cool."
— Jefferson on whether he anticipates Thursday's All-Star reserves announcement:
"No. I do not get my hopes up for it no more. I used to be excited about it. My first and second year in Minnesota, I got disappointed. To keep me from being disappointed, I don't think about it.
"If it happens, I'm thankful. If it don't, I'll get some rest. That's the way I look at it."
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