SALT LAKE CITY — Jamaal Tinsley had his chance. Now it's Earl Watson's turn.
With two veteran point guards at his disposal, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted that it's somewhat of a quandary trying to fit both of them in games behind starter Mo Williams.
"It is," Corbin said, "but it is what it is."
Indeed it is.
"They both deserve to play. Jamaal's done a tremendous job for us. Earl's working his way back in," Corbin said. "There's not going to be a lot of minutes there now that Mo's back up to speed."
Instead of splitting time in games between Tinsley and Watson, Corbin believes the best solution is to allow each guy to get all of the sparse time when Williams, who recently returned from a sprained right forefoot, isn't on the floor. That's why Tinsley went from averaging 20.4 minutes in 16 games to sitting out the past two as Watson played a combined 28 minutes.
"I want to give the guy who's playing those minutes an opportunity to get a rhythm going before we make a decision," Corbin said. "We're happy. We love Jamaal. We love Earl also."
Statistically, the two point guards have given the Jazz similar numbers. Watson is averaging 2.1 points and 4.1 assists in 13.1 minutes, while Tinsley averages 2.7 points and 5.6 assists.
Watson has now played in seven games since returning from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and he admitted his comeback is a work in progress.
"I haven't played basketball competitively since April," he said, "so naturally it takes time for me."
The biggest challenge, Watson claimed, was on defense.
"At first, I couldn't remember rotations. The game was happening too fast defensively," he said. "Defensively, I've gotten better. I'm trying to get back to where I need to be. I feel like I can still grow, so I'm doing it in layers."
The layers include that defensive sharpness, stamina and being able to help teammates get better.
"Now," he said, "it's chemistry with my teammates."
THE ORIGINAL VOICE: Earlier this season, Al Jefferson called Williams "the voice" of the Jazz. Last year, that's how he referred to Tinsley.
Corbin said that continues to be the case even when the NBA player, whose career was resuscitated last year, doesn't get playing time.
"You guys (should) understand how much he's talking to guys during the course of the game," Corbin said, explaining that Tinsley talks and teaches in every huddle and throughout the game from the bench.
"Even when he's not playing, he's talking and encouraging guys and telling us to hang in there, we've got a lot of time left," Corbin said. "(He's) talking to the point guards and letting them know what he sees on the floor, talking to the younger guys."
Added Corbin: "He's just such a great influence on the guys because of his experience and how he play the game."
It's always "positive stuff" coming from 10-year vet.
"He's not overbearing. He's not stepping on or getting in anybody else's way," the coach said. "He's just trying to help this team be successful."
STATS, SHMATS: Williams had 12 assists Monday, but he said the passes just happened in the flow of the game. He also pointed out that he doesn't care about stats aside from Ws in the standings.
"I accept hockey assists. I don't have to get the assists every time," Williams said. "As long as the ball's moving, I think we have a pretty good flow to the offense."
STILL THERE: Jazz fans at Monday's game were delighted to see an alley-oop pass from Watson to his favorite lob target, 2012 NBA Dunk champion Jeremy Evans.
"Obviously, Jeremy and I, it doesn’t matter how long we haven't played together," Watson said, "we have chemistry regardless."
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