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Utah Jazz: Mo Williams expects to play tonight at Cleveland

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 10:41 p.m. MDT

Jazz guard Mo Williams (5) dribbles to the hoop during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News) Jazz guard Mo Williams (5) dribbles to the hoop during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Ben Brewer, Deseret News)

CLEVELAND — The Utah Jazz could have their starting point guard back in time for tonight's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And that's not just a reference to Jamaal Tinsley's expected return from a funeral that took him from the team for Monday's 109-108 overtime loss in Milwaukee.

Mo Williams is planning on playing for the Jazz against his old team after having sat out the past 32 games with a right thumb injury.

The team officially upgraded his medical listing from "out" to "game-time decision."

"Yeah, I expect to play," Williams said.

"It's still a process," he added. "I've got to get out there and get everything back, my rhythm back. We need some wins right now, so I'll just go out and try to do what I do to help the team."

The Jazz likely won't have starting center Al Jefferson back as he's listed as "doubtful" because of the sprained left ankle that's kept him out of the past two games.

While Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wouldn't say who will start in Big Al's place — Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter — he did mention that Williams will be in the first five if he's able to go.

With the Jazz's struggles at point guard and their slipping hold on a playoff position, Williams' return couldn't come at a better time.

"He's the point guard that we counted on right from the beginning of the year," Corbin said. "He's been out for quite a while, so to get him back it could be a great boost for us. We have to play. It will take some adjusting."

Williams will wear a special splint on his surgically repaired thumb, which had torn ligaments repaired during a Jan. 4 procedure. The Jazz captain admitted that has taken some getting used to because he doesn't have his normal grip on the ball.

"I just try to play through it and not get frustrated with it," he said, "just knowing the time will come when I get used to it."

The Jazz went 18-14 with Williams out of the lineup as Tinsley, Earl Watson and Alec Burks helped them keep their heads above water without their former All-Star point guard.

Now the team is looking forward to getting all of its major contributors back and healthy to make a playoff push. The Jazz (32-28) have lost four of five and are in the No. 8 spot out West — 2-1/2 games ahead of the Lakers (30-31).

Corbin admitted that Williams' comeback could provide "a morale booster" for the slumping squad.

"It would be great for all of us to get him back on the floor," he said.

More short shots from shootaround:

— Williams on today being Kevin Murphy's birthday (his 23rd): "Really? He's got to sing 'Happy Birthday' to himself. Absolutely. No question about it."

— Williams on playing at Cleveland where he teamed up with LeBron James in some stellar years from 2008-11:

"I love these fans. I always enjoyed every night I played in front of these fans. I had great times. I have great memories. For the rest of my career when I come back here, it's always going to be a great feeling to play in front of these fans again."

— Corbin said Jefferson is "a little bit better," but the center wasn't able to practice much with the Jazz on Tuesday and is still recuperating from rolling his ankle last Wednesday.

— Corbin on the Cavaliers, who have gone 10-8 since losing to the Jazz, 109-98, on Jan. 19 in Utah:

"Young group, playing well now. Since Kyrie (Irving) has been back , they're playing a lot better basketball. It's a young group that's finding its way. They're going to play hard."

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