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Utah Jazz: Jazz have settled into regular rotation as favorable schedule arrives

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2 2014 11:23 a.m. MST

Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) puts down a dunk during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) puts down a dunk during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is carrying a maximum roster of 15 players, but Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin side-stepped a question about how he’s settled into a nine-man rotation as the season’s progressed.

“We’re getting a little better,” he said when asked about it.

Although five players rarely play and Utah’s two backup point guards have been taking turns getting time behind starter Trey Burke, the last thing Corbin wants is for any of the seldom-used subs to ease up or feel left out because they’re not playing on a consistent basis.

“You fall into a rotation with or a rhythm with different guys,” he said, “but we need all our bodies that (are) available to play to go on different nights.”

The Jazz have had the most success this season (9-7 record) with the starting group of Burke, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors.

Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin and Utah Jazz point guard John Lucas III (5) converse during a Lakers free throw attempt during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin and Utah Jazz point guard John Lucas III (5) converse during a Lakers free throw attempt during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

Behind them, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, Diante Garrett and John Lucas III have seen the most time.

On most nights, Ian Clark, Andris Biedrins, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Rush and Mike Harris have been relegated to the end of the bench or the inactive list.

“We still want to keep everybody engaged,” Corbin said. “We need everybody to be ready to go.”

STAYING HOME: The Jazz have already played 19 away games compared to just 15 at EnergySolutions Arena, but the schedule becomes more favorable this month.

"Our message to our group is, 'Look, we had a tough schedule at the beginning of the season. It will ease up for us a little, but that doesn’t mean we can ease up our playing focus,'" Corbin said.

In January, the team only leaves Utah twice — for Friday's game in L.A. against the Lakers and on a road trip to San Antonio, Detroit and Minnesota (Jan. 15-18).

Utah Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson (24) celebrates after Trey Burke scores in the final minute as the Utah Jazz defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 83-80 in NBA basketball Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City.  
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson (24) celebrates after Trey Burke scores in the final minute as the Utah Jazz defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 83-80 in NBA basketball Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

"Traveling, it can take a toll on your body some," Favors said. "I’m happy we’ve got a couple of home games coming up instead of being out on the road all the time."

The Jazz will play at ESA eight times in January.

"There is an opportunity," Corbin said, "but we’re not in a position right now where we can take anybody for granted anywhere we play them."

QUIET NIGHT: Corbin turned 51 years old on New Year’s Eve, but he was more than willing to pass up an exciting night on the town to celebrate the two events.

“I’m afraid I might run into my kids out there,” he said, “so I stayed in.”

Favors smiled and said “It was OK” when asked about his New Year’s Eve celebration, which was cut short because the team practiced the next day at noon.

Utah Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson (24) hugs Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) during a timeout during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson (24) hugs Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke (3) during a timeout during a game at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, December 27, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

PLAYING FAVORITES: Favors has made key defensive plays and a big putback slam dunk late in the fourth quarter of a few recent games. Which one did he like best?

“I appreciate the win,” he said, smiling. “On the putback dunk, that was a win. On the blocked shots or the contested shots, those were wins.”

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