PORTLAND, Ore. — The first preseason game of the first season entirely without Jerry Sloan or Deron Williams was certainly not without its share of struggles in Utah's 110-90 loss to Portland Monday night.
The Jazz turned the ball over 23 times as a team and shot just 42 percent from the field as they prepared to officially open the regular season Dec. 27 at the Los Angeles Lakers.
GUARDS — Collectively, the Jazz shot a paltry 8 percent from the 3-point line, with shooting guard Raja Bell converting the only long-distance attempt among the 12 the team attempted. Starting point guard Devin Harris led the struggle with an 0-for-3 effort. Harris also had five turnovers, while second-year swingman Gordon Hayward had three and Bell and C.J. Miles each collected two. The guards shot just 12-of-34 from the field collectively, while rookie Alec Burks went just 3-of-10. Grade: D+
FORWARDS — Second-year power forward Derrick Favors showed what strides he has made in the offseason in scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of play. His superior performance was much-needed amindst the struggle of Mehmet Okur, who made his first start since 2010. Okur made just two free throws and grabbed just two rebounds in 19 minutes of action, while small Miles scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes. While newcomer Josh Howard went scoreless in five minutes of play, second-year player Jeremy Evans showed promise by scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds in 10 minutes. Grade: B+
CENTERS — Al Jefferson did not do anything special, indicating that he may be largely inconsistent statistically like last season. Jefferson scored seven points on 3-of-7 shooting with three rebounds in 18 minutes at the starting center position. Rookie Enes Kanter impressed with 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of play, though his six points came on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor. Grade: C
BENCH — Favors, Kanter and Evans led the way. Favors made a strong case for a starting position with a game that was hardly short of dominating. His play was sorely needed with the absence of Paul Millsap, who remained sidelined with a strained quadricep. The bench committed 10 of the 23 turnovers, while shooting just 38 percent from the field collectively. Earl Watson did seem to push for some of Harris' minutes by notching five assists. Grade: B+
COACHING — Some may question Tyrone Corbin's decision to start Mehmet Okur when he struggled so mightily Monday night. As expected in a preseason game, the lineup substitution rotation seemed a bit jumbled as Corbin attempted to determine who should remain on the floor. Favors was heads and shoulders above all else in making such a case. Grade: B-
OVERALL — The high volume of turnovers and horrid outside shooting should concern any Jazz fan. However, Favors' play, along with Evans' high level of activity and Kanter's tough rebounding is encouraging. It seemed clear that the team currently lacks cohesion and Corbin has a long way to go to determining where to distribute minutes, particularly measuring how much loyalty he will show to veterens like Okur and Bell when younger guys on the bench at least made an impression — or a lot more. Grade: C-
Rhett Wilkinson is a USU student majoring in journalism and speech communications. He has previously been an intern with the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: wilklogan
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