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Utah Jazz eager to hit the practice floor

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 10:35 a.m. MDT

Jazz forward Derrick Favors dunks over Celtics forward Glen Davis during Monday night's loss against Boston.      (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Jazz forward Derrick Favors dunks over Celtics forward Glen Davis during Monday night's loss against Boston. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Charlie Sheen might not need it, and we all know how a certain NBA player who most recently played in Turkey feels about it.

But the Utah Jazz were eager to hit the practice court Tuesday.

The revamped squad is even happy to have a second straight day of non-game-action workouts today.

Before Tuesday, after all, newcomers Devin Harris and Derrick Favors had played in three games but had only participated in one full-out practice session since joining the Jazz last Thursday in Indianapolis after being traded from New Jersey.

Utah has had a couple of shootarounds and multiple film sessions since then, but there's a reason why practice precedes perfection (as some — but not Sheen or Allen Iverson — might say).

"It's really important that we get some time on the practice floor for them to go through things full speed," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "We can slow it down a little bit to have them walk through it and then go through it full speed so they can get a good look at it before they get into the game situation."

It's one thing to mentally know what you're supposed to do in a play. It's another to react when an opponent throws a wrench into your plans and you suddenly have to rely on Plan B or C.

With three Jazz games under his belt, Harris said it's coming along so far.

"It's running pretty smoothly," said the Jazz's new starting point guard. "I'm still just trying to get the bearing of what plays to call and plays for who and how to get guys shots and whatnot. Defensively, I'm still trying to figure out the rotations and how we play pick-and-rolls and such."

(To that last point, Harris can join the club, considering how that defensive execution has plagued Utah all season.)

Added Harris: "We'll continue to get better. We have a couple of practices ahead of me, so I'll definitely be better for next game."

That next game is a TNT-televised one late Thursday against the also-restructured Denver Nuggets, whose star, Carmelo Anthony, was shipped off to the Big Apple not far from new Net Deron Williams.

Denver (35-26) is one of the teams ahead of No. 10 Utah (32-29) in the pecking order for playoff berths, so this game has added significance for the slumping Jazz.

But Corbin believes his team took a step in the right direction in Monday's 107-102 loss to Boston with what he considered this group's toughest game together.

Even so, the Jazz certainly still have room for improvement, having lost 16 of their past 21 games overall and six straight at home.

Asked for specifics, Corbin responded: "Execution in key situations, reading each other, not making mistakes and turning the ball over, especially down the stretch. When other teams make runs at us, we've got to really rely on our offense as a group then and not individuals trying to take over and make something happen for themselves."

That, he hopes, will come through practice and continued familiarity with each other so players can read each other and react to opponents.

"It's a new bunch of guys and everybody's trying to find their niche within what we're doing," Corbin said. "And we're trying to figure out who we are as a group of guys, where we can go in different situations and how we can count on each other both on offense and defense."

Like his predecessor, Corbin continues to tinker with lineup combinations in hopes of finding the best matchups that will work against different opponents.

For example, Ronnie Price didn't play a minute Monday night after seeing extended minutes Saturday, and it was the exact opposite for Gordon Hayward.

Kyrylo Fesenko and Francisco Elson also received DNP-CDs on Monday, with Corbin opting to again use Favors as the key backup big man.

That rotation could (and probably will) change in the future.

"Everybody in uniform (has) got to be ready to play. You can be called on at any time and we have to approach it that way," Corbin said. "Certain guys will play more minutes and certain guys will play some nights and not other nights. But the matchups and the flow of the game will dictate that."

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