Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a 0-3 start and a 10-game losing streak, counting preseason games, the Utah Jazz haven’t been playing that poorly of late.
They were close in a couple of late preseason games in Los Angeles, and in all three regular-season games, the Jazz were in the game until the final minutes, or even final seconds.
Now the Jazz are facing a daunting four-game Eastern road trip, beginning Tuesday night in Brooklyn (5:30 p.m. MST, ROOT Sports) and trying to figure out a way to find a victory. As far as coach Tyrone Corbin is concerned, it’s mostly a matter of playing a complete game.
“We’ve got to learn how to compete for 48 minutes,’’ said Corbin. “We’re getting good halves out of ourselves, we’re getting a good quarter or almost three quarters in a game. But we’ve got to put 48 minutes together, especially on the road.’’
In their most recent game, a 105-94 loss to Houston, the Jazz played an excellent first half when they led by as many as 19 points, but were doomed by a poor third quarter, which led to the defeat. The other two losses were by three points in the final seconds to Oklahoma City and Phoenix.
“The first half against Houston was pretty good,’’ said Corbin. “We executed and pushed the ball down the floor and I thought we took it to them defensively. But in the third quarter, we didn’t have the same sense of urgency about ourselves.’’
The players noticed that too.
‘We’re just a young group and we have to know the first five minutes of every quarter are the most important,’’ said John Lucas III.
“We need to learn how to take care of the ball better and how to close out games,’’ added Derrick Favors.
It won’t be easy for the Jazz Tuesday night at the Barclays Arena. Not only are the 1-2 Nets a team loaded with former all-star players (36 combined all-star appearances), they are coming off an embarrassing loss Sunday to the lowly Orlando Magic 107-86. That was the debut of new coach Jason Kidd, who had to sit out the first two games because of a DUI conviction.
Two former Jazz players are part of the all-star cast in Brooklyn — point guard Deron Williams and reserve forward Andrei Kirilenko. Corbin complimented both players, going over their individual attributes and saying the Jazz will have their hands full trying to defend them on the court.
Williams, who is off to a slow start (8.0 ppg on 36 percent shooting) will start on the guard line with Joe Johnson, while Brook Lopez mans the middle and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who came over from the Boston Celtics in the offseason, will be the forwards.
Others coming off the bench besides Kirilenko are veteran Jason Terry, Reggie Evans and Alan Anderson.
The Jazz are expected to go with the same lineup as Saturday with Jamaal Tinsley starting at point ahead of Lucas with Favors and Enes Kanter inside and Gordon Hayward and Richard Jefferson on the wings.
While the Jazz are clearly outmanned, as they will be most nights this season, Corbin feels his team has a chance if it takes care of the little things on the court.
“Every little thing counts, setting the right screens, getting the ball down the floor, making the right cut, making the right secondary pass, making the right shot,” he said. “We need to know how important the little things are in helping you be successful on the road.’’
After playing Brooklyn, the Jazz move up to Boston to play a young Celtics team Wednesday before games against Chicago on Friday and Toronto on Saturday.
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