SAN ANTONIO — The long, drawn-out wait between Games 1 and 2 is almost over for the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs.
The visiting team, back in the Alamo City after returning to Salt Lake City for two days, can't wait to get another crack at the favored home team tonight (5 p.m. MT, TNT/ROOT).
"It's a big game for us," Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said. "(We need to) come in tonight and just play hard and compete and try to learn from what we did wrong in that first game and make the adjustment."
Hayward admitted he's excited to get on the court again after the Jazz fell to the Spurs, 106-91, Sunday afternoon in his NBA playoff debut.
"Yeah, it's fun. It's what you play for — games like this," Hayward said. "Tonight should be a good night for us. Hopefully, we can come out and play better and take it to them."
From Coach Tyrone Corbin to Al Jefferson to Hayward, the Jazz are convinced the result can be different this time around at the AT&T Center as long as Utah plays its game better.
The Jazz, who've pounded opponents into submission in the paint all season, were outscored 58-44 inside. And Spurs guard Tony Parker had his way with Utah's defense, scoring 28 points and dishing out eight assists.
To avoid a repeat of that, Big Al said the Jazz must improve in two areas: energy and physical play.
"We've got to hit them first," he said, speaking figuratively. "And not get hit first."
The Jazz also know they have to run their offense more effectively.
"They're always going to come with a great defensive mindset," Jefferson said. "It seemed like they knew our plays better than we did because we just didn't run them. We didn't execute them right. We didn't set picks. We didn't get guys open, so this time around we've got to do it because that's what we're good at. That's how we got here, dominating the paint."
Corbin wants the Jazz to improve in two specific areas: "Our effort and our intensity."
That goes from being more aggressive in defending the pick-and-roll, to setting better screens and making crisper passes — especially to get over big men who might front Jefferson, Paul Millap or Derrick Favors on defense.
Overall, Corbin expects a sharper performance from his crew, which now has a playoff game under its belt.
"We've been through the first game of it. We know what to expect," Corbin said. "It's going to be intense for us. It's going to be intense for them too. We just got to make sure we come out and relax as soon as we can and play the game."
Asked what poison he'd prefer to take against Parker, Corbin said that the Jazz would prefer to make Parker beat the Jazz with his jumpshots.
That, Corbin said, is better than allowing him to get on top of the basket or into the lane where he can break the Jazz's defense down.
"He's a good player. He's going to make adjustments," Corbin said. "He's capable of hitting jump shots. He's capable of getting to the basket. We just have to make sure we give him different looks."
And then hope that Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the wide variety of other weapons the Spurs and 2012 NBA coach of the year Gregg Popovich have in their arsenal don't kill them.
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