Jazz rookie point guard Eric Maynor was initiated into the NBA on Wednesday — by another rookie.
It was a welcoming committee of one, named Ty Lawson.
The University of North Carolina product was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year last season and was selected 18th overall — two spots ahead of Maynor — in last June's NBA Draft.
Lawson had Maynor's number in the fourth quarter of Utah's season-opening loss at Denver, twice shaking loose from the Jazz rookie for baskets as the Nuggets pulled away in a 114-105 win.
The second basket resulted in a foul and a free throw for the super-quick Lawson, who finished with 17 points in 26 reserve-role minutes, and a trip back to the bench for Maynor, a Virginia Commonwealth product and last season's Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.
"In all fairness to Eric, he's going to see some of that, he's going to have bad days. And I may not play him, may play him — I don't know," said coach Jerry Sloan, whose Jazz play their home opener tonight vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. "I've got to see where we are as we move forward. He's played pretty well in practice, and had some moments.
"But you can't let people drive by you. You've got to learn to get up and play them and foul them. It's a sad commentary when you just watch guys shoot layups, in my opinion. Foul the guy, and make him see if he can make two free throws rather than just giving him a layup.
"It wasn't all him," Sloan added, "but for a young guy, those are things they've got to learn to do."
So score it national-power product 1, mid-major product 0 in what could become a longstanding rivalry between Northwest Division rookie point guards who hail from back East.
Sloan, in fact, was effusive in his praise for the one who took Round 1.
"He (Lawson) gives them more speed, pushing the ball up the floor, (putting) a lot more pressure on your defense, and he seems to know what he's doing," the Jazz coach said. "He played a terrific game."
WILLIAMS' MINUTES: Sloan acknowledged it was tough watching the Nuggets take control during that crucial stretch at the start of the fourth, one in which the Denver lead went from 82-80 to 89-80 as Jazz starting point guard Deron Williams, who logged a game-high 41 minutes, rested on the bench with three fouls.
"I probably made a mistake or two with that, but I can't play him (Williams) the whole time," Sloan said. "I played (combo guard) Ronnie Price there some in the first half and we were able to survive a little bit, but we got a little wild. Everybody got wild."
HE SAID IT: Williams, on the Jazz's defense: "We played good in some stretches, especially in that first quarter, second quarter. But we've done that before. ... We've been there, done that last year. So until we put together a full four quarters of defense, a full four quarters of basketball on the road, we're not going to be a good team."
HE SAID IT II: Sloan, asked if his big men wore down in Wednesday's fourth quarter: "They were worn down in the first. That's what I was concerned about, because of the way we tried to execute our offense when they put pressure on us. We just stood and took shots, and ... that's not the way to play. You have to make more than one pass in your offense."
BREWER EXTENSION: The Jazz now have a basis of comparison when considering a potential rookie contract extension offer to starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, who has until Monday to accept the offer — should one actually be made — or become a restricted free agent next offseason.
A four-year extension agreement reached Wednesday between Oklahoma City and defensive-specialist guard Thabo Sefolosha — taken one spot ahead of Brewer at No. 13 in the 2006 draft — is thought to be valued in total at somewhere in the $13 million to $15 million range.
Brewer has until Monday to get extended because the league's Oct. 31 deadline for such deals falls on a Saturday. The Jazz also now know they have until Monday to decide if they'll exercise their $1.3 million third-season option on Kosta Koufos' rookie contract, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Thursday.
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