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Will break get the Utah Jazz back on track?

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 2:57 a.m. MDT

Jazz forward Paul Millsap, left, and new assistant coach Jeff Hornacek share some laughs prior to practice. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Jazz forward Paul Millsap, left, and new assistant coach Jeff Hornacek share some laughs prior to practice. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It's been 15 days since the Utah Jazz won a basketball game. It's been 12 days since Jerry Sloan resigned as Jazz head coach. It's been forever since Tyrone Corbin has won an NBA basketball game as a head coach.

And it's not getting any easier for the Jazz, who face a three-game road trip this week, starting in Dallas Wednesday, followed by a home game against one of the NBA's best teams (Boston) on Monday.

Following back-to-back losses last week to Phoenix and Golden State, the Jazz coaches and players (except for Deron Williams) took the last four days off, which they hope will help them get on track for their remaining 25 games.

"Getting away after going through the transition was good for us," said Corbin, who took over for Sloan on Feb. 11, the day he resigned. "It's been good to sit back and look where we are as a team and individually where you are as a player and just get your mindset on getting back and getting ready to go. I feel that way and I think these guys feel that way also."

Al Jefferson, foreground, and Earl Watson sit around before practice on Monday night.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Al Jefferson, foreground, and Earl Watson sit around before practice on Monday night. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

The Jazz players seemed refreshed and ready to go as they practiced together for the first time in almost a week Monday night at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.

"We need to regroup and re-focus, have a couple of good days of practice and get back to work," said Williams, who shrugged off rumors about him wanting to play for New York after next season. "Everybody's going to be refreshed and rejuvenated, we just have to go out there and play hard. It's been such a hard time for us, so it was good to get away and forget about things for awhile. It's almost like a new start."

C.J. Miles believes the Jazz were making strides before the break, but being shorthanded and getting some bad bounces kept the Jazz from winning.

"I think it was a break we all needed for the guys to get their minds right and their bodies right to be on track for the second half of the season," he said. "We'll approach them hopefully with a sense of urgency, knowing that we could easily not make the playoffs and we could easily be in the fifth spot the way the records go. We just need to come out and play hard and be mentally prepared every night."

Deron Williams talks to the media as Jazz players return to their first practice following the All-Star break on Monday night. The Jazz — other than Williams — had four days off from basketball.     (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Deron Williams talks to the media as Jazz players return to their first practice following the All-Star break on Monday night. The Jazz — other than Williams — had four days off from basketball. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Corbin said things weren't as bad as he thought as he looked at the three games his team played prior to the All-Star break.

"I had a chance to sit back and relax and evaluate where things are, where I am where this team is and where we are as a group of guys," he said. "I had a good feeling about things after looking at the film of the three games that I've coached. The guys' effort was good. We did play right and we played hard. So it was pleasing in that way."

Corbin believes one of the biggest problems in the Jazz losing three games in which they held second-half leads was the fact that they were missing three injured players, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Price most of the time.

"We need more than nine guys," Corbin said. "The guys in uniform did a great job, they played hard and tried to do the right things. I think we just ran out of gas at the end, plus there was the emotional factor was in there. But we executed, ran the floor well and did some pleasing things. We just need more people."

Corbin said he expects Bell, Kirilenko and Price to all play this week, but doesn't expect Mehmet Okur back anytime soon.

Kirilenko said he planned to play Wednesday night in Dallas, depending how practice went Monday and Tuesday on his sore ankle. He says the Jazz need to look at the final 25 games as a new season.

"The second part is really starting from scratch and I think it's a good approach," he said. "We don't have anything right now, so let's start winning some games."

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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