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Utah Jazz: Alec Burks, Randy Foye help shorthanded team stay on point

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5 2013 8:40 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Mo Williams is out for at least a couple more weeks while rehabbing his surgically repaired thumb.

Earl Watson is sidelined as well with multiple injuries on his lower right leg, including bone bruising and a stress fracture.

One of the Jazz's other primary ballhandlers, Gordon Hayward, is out for who knows how long with a sprained right shoulder.

Utah hasn't begun open tryouts for playmakers or asked the statue in front of the building to unretire yet, but Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admits that he's in a precarious point guard situation.

"It's a concern," Corbin said. "Jamaal (Tinsley) is the last man standing there who's a true point."

Tinsley is expected to start again tonight at EnergySolutions Arena when the Jazz host the Milwaukee Bucks, but, don't look now, he isn't at 100 percent either.

Before Tuesday's practice, Tinsley admitted that his heavily taped left ankle is sore. He twisted it against Portland this past weekend.

"I'm OK to play," he said. "But it's hurting."

Remember that joke Al Jefferson made about playing point guard the other day?

OK, forget that idea. But the Jazz have already pulled on the in-case-of-emergency point guard lever, and Alec Burks and Randy Foye have responded nicely. The team, already down to 11 healthy and available players, certainly doesn't want to dig even deeper into the backup ballhandler bag of tricks.

Tinsley, who is 16-9 as a Jazz starter this season, insists that isn't an option right now anyway.

"I can run up and down and be out there on the court and help the team. I just can't move how I want to move," the soon-to-be 35-year-old point guard said. "But I think just by me being out there, I can still help."

Corbin is counting his lucky stars that Kevin O'Connor set his roster up with a couple of combo guards who can run the offensive show before O'Connor stepped aside as general manager.

For the most part, Alec Burks and Randy Foye have given yeoman efforts in filling in for the missing Williams, Watson and Hayward, and when Tinsley has needed a breather.

The Jazz have even managed to pick up steam since Williams injured his thumb during the pre-Christmas road trip. Utah fell to 14-14 after that loss in Miami when he was hurt, and has since gone 13-8 (a stretch which also included absences of Hayward for five games and Watson for two).

"Not only injuries, guys are just beat up," said Corbin, mentioning how close the Jazz are to the proverbial 50-game wall.

"We have to play our way through it just because of how close we are in the race. We want to finish up as strong as we can."

Tonight will be a big test for the Jazz, considering the Bucks are a likely Eastern Conference playoff team and have a quick and high-scoring point guard in Brandon Jennings.

The ball isn't always advanced downcourt as quickly as Corbin would prefer, limiting the Jazz's offensive options and forcing them into some rushed plays. But the third-year coach has been pleased with the production from Burks and Foye, the guys who rank somewhere between fourth and sixth as point guard options.

"We'll continue to work as a committee," he said. "Guys understand they have to step up, and we'll try to put them in a position to help them out as much as we can."

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