SALT LAKE CITY — Much to the Utah Jazz's chagrin, the Golden State Warriors finally won something.
Foldin', er, Golden State, which lost 10 of its final 11 games, won a tiebreaker with the Toronto Raptors on Friday through "random drawings" at the NBA office and will be slotted in the No. 7 position of the 2012 lottery.
Unless another team leapfrogs the Warriors by winning one of the three top lottery picks, the Jazz will not receive Golden State's top-seven protected first-round selection this year.
Thanks to the Deron Williams deal, the Jazz can still acquire a first-round pick from Golden State in 2013 or '14, but those picks also have protections (top seven and six, respectively). If the Warriors aren't passed up this season and keep their own picks the next two years, Utah will receive two future second-round picks. The Jazz also received Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter (the Nets' top pick last year) and $3 million for D-Will in that trade that is looking more lopsided in Utah's favor.
The Warriors went 5-18 after Golden State owner Joe Lacob publicly talked about wanting to keep the first-round pick on Bay Area radio station KNBR, saying on March 20, "We think we can get our pick back." According to the Contra Costa Times, the owner reportedly claimed the Warriors and Jazz had discussed options as to how Golden State could retain its pick.
In March, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor gave a "no comment" about that report. This week, he didn't want to delve into the Warriors' late-season slide that made Friday's tiebreaker possible.
"It's none of my business what they do," O'Connor said. "I've got absolutely no control over that. Zero."
For now, Utah only has one pick in the two-round draft — No. 47 overall. The Jazz had to give up their first-round selection (18th overall after tiebreakers) to Minnesota to finalize the 2010 Al Jefferson trade.
HE'LL BE BACK: Jazz forward Paul Millsap dressed but didn't play in Thursday's regular-season finale because of a strained adductor (groin). The chances of him sitting out Game 1 against the Spurs, however, are between nil and none.
"I could have played (Thursday)," Millsap said. "But it was an executive decision to sit it out, let it heal fully and be ready for Sunday."
Millsap, who only missed two games this season due to injury, said his adductor has bothered him "off and on" for a while. But, he added, "I found a way just to put it in the back of my head."
NEW STARTER?: On Thursday, jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said he would consider inserting returned Josh Howard back into the starting lineup if the small forward looked good.
In his second game back from his knee scope and month layoff, Howard not only played well while scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds, but he also had a powerful putback dunk that seemed to emphatically point out that he is back and healthy.
On the other hand, third-year forward DeMarre Carroll filled in nicely for the Jazz in that starting role after injuries to Howard and C.J. Miles.
It remains possible Corbin could start Millsap at the three spot and go with the effective big lineup along with Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson.
"We'll look at it, what gives us the best chance," Corbin said, when asked about Howard starting. "DeMarre's played very well with that first group. We're going to need everybody."
SHORT STAY: The Jazz announced that they will fly back to Salt Lake City after Sunday's game (11 a.m. MT tipoff). The team will be in Utah Sunday night and will have two full days of practice and rest at home before returning to Texas on Tuesday for Wednesday's Game 2.
Corbin said the team wants to have the "comfort" of practicing and watching film in its own facility and being home.
"I think," he said, "the break will be good for us."
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