SAN ANTONIO — Marvin Williams had back surgery a few years ago and has dealt with a few injuries of that nature over the years.
Williams’ most recent back issue didn’t keep him out very long. He only missed one game, Friday vs. the Clippers, before returning to the Utah Jazz lineup Sunday against San Antonio.
In a twist, Williams wasn’t in the starting lineup for the first time since he replaced Enes Kanter in the first five early in November.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin decided to keep 6-11 Kanter in the starting role he had Friday alongside 6-10 Derrick Favors to help the Jazz match the Spurs’ large, 6-11 front line of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.
Corbin also said he could change back and forth between Kanter and Williams, depending on matchups for the final month of the season.
The coach isn’t worried about Williams reacting poorly.
“He understands completely. We had a talk about it today. Marvin’s a true professional,” Corbin said. “He understands that he’s a huge part of what we’re doing here and we need him to continue to play for us.”
Not surprisingly, Williams corroborated Corbin’s hunch.
Bothered by not starting? “Not at all. The last couple of years I’ve come off the bench, I’ve started, I’ve played a lot, I’ve played a little. It doesn’t bother me at all, man,” Williams said. “I talked to Coach and I told Coach that I support him with whatever move he wants to make. And whenever I get out there I’m still going to continue to play as hard as I’ve been playing.”
As for his injury, Williams was surprised when his back seized up on him during Wednesday’s game against Dallas.
“Sam Dalembert and I were just kind of (doing a) regular box out, going for a rebound and I just didn’t feel right,” Williams said. “It was nothing out of the norm. I just kind of twisted funny and it just kind of locked up on me. It was kind of a freak thing.”
The MRI test Williams took on Friday revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and his back has since loosened up.
“Obviously, with the back surgery a few years they (Jazz officials) just wanted to make sure everything was OK,” Williams said. “I haven’t felt my back since the surgery, not at all. That was the first time ever I had felt anything like this since the surgery. I feel fine now.”
SUBDUED RETURN: Seldom-used forward Malcolm Thomas returned to AT&T Center for the first time after playing here briefly earlier this season with the Spurs. The Jazz claimed him off waivers on Jan. 25 after San Antonio cut him.
“It is kind of weird since I started the year here,” Thomas said at Sunday’s shootaround. “But no real emotions.”
No playing time, either.
Thomas and Andris Biedrins were both put on the inactive list because only 13 of the 15 Jazz players are allowed to dress.
The former San Diego State big man only played in one game with the Spurs this season before getting cut. He had three appearances with San Antonio in 2011-12 before moving on to short stints with Chicago and Golden State.
Any San Antonio highlights stand out?
“No highlight. Nothing,” Thomas said. “I had nine rebounds in the first game, the only game that I played.”
NOT IMPRESSED: When asked about a recent dunk by backup big man Aron Baynes, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich responded with a classic blunt-but-comical gruff response.
“Dunking doesn’t really impress me that much,” Popovich said. “Playing well does.”