Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Now that January is coming to an end with Friday night’s game against Golden State at the EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz are ready to start playing games again.
Not that they ever stopped playing. It’s just that the Jazz had the lightest schedule in the NBA during the month of January with three three-day gaps between games and three two-day gaps. While the other teams in the league were playing an average of 15.5 games in the month, the Jazz will have played just 12. Seven teams played as many as 17 this month.
It was quite a contrast to early in the season when the Jazz were playing the most games in the NBA when they had 17 games in November followed by 16 in December. They’ll have 12 games again in the short month of February, which also includes the All-Star break before playing 17 in March and seven in April.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has noticed the disparity in the schedule and has enjoyed some extra practice time for his young team. But he also wouldn't mind a little more consistency.
“You adjust to it,’’ he said. “It was difficult when we had so many games early and we were hurt. Then we got these guys healthy and were playing at a pretty good pace and we got a rhythm going and then you shut that down.’’
The Jazz were just 3-14 back in November when Trey Burke was out with a broken finger and they started to get in a groove in December when they went 7-9. January has actually been a winning month at 6-5, but the fact that the games are spaced so far apart at times might be the reason they were in a win-lose-win-lose pattern for much of the month.
“I think that threw us off a little bit because we had a little more time,’’ Corbin said. “We needed the time to get our bodies back, but the focus was lost a little bit. Because whatever you do in practice you can’t simulate in a complete game, so it throws you off. And you want to go hard in practice, but you also have to be careful not to get guys hurt.’’
Generally players would rather play games than practice and the Jazz have been having a lot of practices this month. Jeremy Evans says he can see both sides to having a lighter schedule as the Jazz have had.
“When you win two (in a row), you’re ready to go out and play the next night and keep it going,’’ he said. “But at the same time, it helps our bodies recover and we can work on our mistakes and watching film.’’
One advantage to the recent schedule for the Jazz is that they are catching the busier teams playing back-to-back games. That’s the case with the Warriors, who had to play a game against the Clippers Thursday night before flying to Salt Lake. It was also the case with the last two Jazz opponents, both of which they beat, as Washington played in Phoenix the night before playing Utah and Sacramento played Denver the night before.
JAZZ NOTES: Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will be honored during Friday night’s game in a special ceremony. A jersey with “1223” signifying his victories as a Jazz coach will be raised to the rafters. Before Thursday night’s game, the Warriors had lost five of their previous seven games . The Warriors beat the Jazz in back-to-back games in November, winning 102-88 in Oakland and 98-87 in Utah. Former Utah star Andrew Bogut ranks tied for ninth in the NBA in rebounds at 10.3 per game despite playing just 27.2 minutes per game, the lowest minutes of any player among the top 30 rebounders. Bogut is also hitting a career-high 64.0 percent from the field and a career low 34.6 percent from the free-throw line. After a quick trip to Los Angeles to play the Clippers Satuday night, the Jazz return home to play Toronto Monday night. The Jazz and Warriors will meet one more time this season on April 6 in Oakland.
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