OAKLAND, Calif. – One piece of the Utah Jazz's 2012-13 puzzle was revealed Monday night.
The starting lineup — a favorite fan topic — includes Al Jefferson, the Williamses (Mo and Marvin), Gordon Hayward and, yep, Paul Millsap.
For now, at least.
Hidden somewhere in the puzzle's box is the piece that reveals whether or not that particular lineup can fully mesh and win together.
That outcome didn't happen in the Jazz's preseason opener, which was won 83-80 by the Golden State Warriors.
"We're going to look at different groups," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said regarding starting lineups. "This is the five that I think that gives us a good chance to win going forward. But you know what, we'll see where things fall."
Jazz fans hoping for an undefeated preseason were probably upset the Jazz's shots didn't fall.
But even while Utah only hit 37.5 percent of its shots while giving up just 83 points, it was the team's defense that received the bulk of the postgame brunt in the locker-room.
Too often, the Warriors took advantage of the Jazz's missteps and letups, with David Lee (19 points) punishing Utah on the inside and the likes of Brandon Rush (14) seizing open opportunities on the outside.
It was a good — and early — reminder for the visitors that they remain a work in progress.
"We still have some communication gaps that we've got to work on a lot (on defense)," Corbin said. "Although we didn't make a lot of shots, I thought the execution of our offense when we got in our sets was pretty good. We set screens. We got the right shots. We just didn't make them tonight."
Marvin Williams tied Millsap with a team-high 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting in his Utah preseason debut. But, like his coach, the focus on defensive faux-pas countered him enjoying the fact that NBA basketball is back in action.
"It was fun, man. It's good to get out there and play against somebody else besides ourselves," Williams said. "Obviously, defensively we had a ton of breakdowns. I personally had a ton of breakdowns, so I'm interested to see the film (Tuesday)."
One of Corbin's goals for Monday's preseason opener was to get a lot of players minutes.
Thirteen players saw action, with 11 guys logging double digits, for the Jazz in their loss at Oracle Arena.
Utah had a chance to send the game into overtime after digging out of a 16-point second-half hole, but an off-balanced Randy Foye 3-point attempt bounced off the rim in the waning seconds.
Utah's Starting 5 helped the Jazz take a 21-19 lead after one quarter, but the reloaded Warriors stormed ahead by double digits thanks to the likes of David Lee (19 points) and Brandon Rush (14).
Though the Jazz did lead by two points after the first quarter, they were outscored by 11 in the second half as most of the starters sat.
Mo Williams effectively scored early on, leading Utah with seven points in 10 minutes. The returned Jazz player finished with 11 points, six assists and three rebounds.
The Jazz reserves helped the team scrape back into the game. The group of Jamaal Tinsley, Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter played particularly well together, giving Utah that last shot.
Kanter didn't do the worm or flash his abs to cameras, but he still managed to provide highlights during his energetic 24-minute performance. Kanter had nine rebounds in the first half and finished with the Jazz's only double-double of 12 points and 11 boards.
The 6-11 backup center's outing gave an indication that his offseason conditioning, including a 51-pound weight loss, could help him earn more playing time and be more effective in his second season.
"The weight loss has been good for him," Corbin said. "He's moving freely. He's feeling good about who he is and he's working hard."
Corbin also appreciated the effort given by DeMarre Carroll, whose shot looked as good as his hustling effort.
"It started in it last year. He's been working on it all summer and it's starting to show now," Corbin said of the outside shooting by Carroll, who hit a 3-pointer and shot 4-for-6. "He's taking good shots and he's making shots. He did a good job tonight, so all that with his hustle on the floor will add to what we're trying to do."
Hayward and Marvin Williams have played with each other for most of the preseason, and that combination could give the Jazz an advantage in several categories against other wings this season.
"They're very versatile. Both guys handle the ball on the perimeter, post up at times," Corbin said when asked about that starting lineup pairing. "They run the floor extremely well, so we can throw the ball up to them and let them create plays. They can also bring the ball up and initiate the offense."
Hayward likes the potential starting combo, even though — or maybe because — it means he'd have to guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and other quick shooting guards.
Size mismatches would tend to be in the Jazz's favor.
"Six-eight, 6-9 across the two and three is pretty tall. I think that will help us out as well," said Hayward, who's the shorter of the two taller wings. "I think we can kind of shoot a little bit, both put it on the floor. Just the similarities in our game will help us out because we'll be so versatile, able to do a lot of things on the floor."
One of the easiest decisions Corbin had to make was inserting a familiar face into the first five. Replacing Devin Harris as Utah's starting playmaker, this was Mo Williams' first game of any sort in a Jazz uniform since playing in Utah as a rookie in 2003-04.
"He's a point guard," Corbin said before the game. "He's relishing in the moment to help lead this group of guys."
GAME NOTES: Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek did not travel with the team because of what Corbin called a "family matter." Corbin didn't specify when Hornacek will rejoin the team. Utah next plays Friday at home against Oklahoma City. ... Former Ute center Andrew Bogut (left ankle rehab) has not played yet for the Warriors. Golden State has another ex-Utah player on its squad in Carlon Brown, who transferred to Colorado in 2010.
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