As the Utah Jazz season wanes, it gives the team a chance to try some new things. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, the different wrinkle was a very youthful starting lineup.
While the change did not prevent Portland from sneaking away with a 111-99 victory Friday, it allowed Jazz fans a glimpse into the future.
Some Jazz faithful saw their wish granted, as the quintet of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke and Alec Burks got the opening nod together.
“We just wanted to look at some different things at this point,” Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin said.
The lineup change paid some early dividends as the five came out with solid execution, crisp passing and a lot of energy. All five had impressive stat lines, with each tallying 14 or more points. Favors paced the way with 21 points in 28 minutes. While there were some second half breakdowns for the team, the experiment was productive overall.
“Playing together, you get experience. You get chemistry. You can’t teach that,” Hayward said.
When asked about the in-game opportunity, he added, “Even when you go hard in practice, it’s still just practice. There’s nothing like playing in a game.”
Burke added, “We play well together and we all want to win.”
Gobert’s game: Another young player has been waiting patiently for his chance. And Rudy Gobert received his opportunity to contribute against Portland. With Favors encountering early foul trouble and Robin Lopez’s size proving a formidable obstacle, Gobert was inserted early.
He made a quick impression as he rejecting a shot on one end, while laying it in on the other. He was active and affecting the Trail Blazers’ offense in the second quarter. While a collision with Burks caused some dizziness, Gobert had one of his most fruitful outings with seven points and six rebounds in just 11 minutes.
“I feel good. I’m in good shape," the big man said. "I try to make it tough on the other team.”
Odds and ends:
- With an eye toward the 2014 NBA draft, the Jazz loss coupled with a Boston Celtics win brings the two squads into a tie for the fourth-worst record. The Golden State Warriors clinched a postseason berth Friday, thus eliminating the possibility of a second lottery pick for Utah.
- Former Jazz shooting guard Wesley Matthews had a good outing, finishing with a team-high 21 points. Another Utah alum, Mo Williams, added four points and four assists.
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- The Jazz assisted on 26 of their 40 field goals — a 65 percent clip. They assisted on eight of their first nine made shots.
- Burke, on where the team’s execution broke down: “We made some mental errors down the stretch we couldn’t afford to make. ... Turnovers, not communicating on the weak side, rotating.”
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.