CLEVELAND — After Tuesday's practice, the Utah Jazz listed starting center Al Jefferson as "doubtful" and Mo Williams as "out" for tonight's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though it's not a term the team would use to describe their coach, Tyrone Corbin could be listed as "defensive."
And the Jazz's starting lineup?
The day after losing a tough 109-108 overtime game in Milwaukee, Corbin was asked for further clarification as to why he didn't reinsert temporary starting center Derrick Favors into the game in the fourth quarter and the extra session.
Favors had played the game of his NBA life, totaling 23 points and 15 rebounds in 30 brilliant minutes.
Corbin, as he often does when asked questions about lineup moves, offered a curt and somewhat feisty response to beat writers participating in a phone interview from the Milwaukee airport.
"We liked the way it was going on the floor," Corbin said. "I made the decision."
The decision almost paid off, as Enes Kanter (18 points, 10 rebounds) had another big game while helping the Jazz rally out of a 10-point deficit at the beginning of the period.
The Bucks, however, forced overtime on Brandon Jenning's late game-tying 3-pointer and then edged the Jazz in the extra session thanks to defensive breakdowns that gave JJ Redick a couple of open looks on deep daggers.
Corbin said "practice was great" on Tuesday, but an understandable gut-wrenching feeling remained prevalent the morning after the Milwaukee stumble. The Jazz have three games left on this pivotal Eastern road trip, which concludes this weekend with back-to-back games in Chicago (Friday) and New York (Saturday).
"Everybody was disappointed in the loss last night," Corbin said.
One major source of disappointment was how the Jazz had three starters go scoreless for the second time in five games. Earl Watson, Randy Foye and Marvin Williams provided zero offense while missing a combined 15 shots.
"It is a concern. We have to get scoring," Corbin said. "We need a better flow with that first group."
Corbin admitted he's considering making further changes (again), but he wouldn't divulge what those might be. Last week, he put Watson into the starting lineup for Jamaal Tinsley after the Jazz's most recent game in which three starters (Tinsley, Foye and Marvin Williams) went scoreless in a loss to the Clippers.
Watson (2.0 ppg, 30.6 percent) and Williams (7.8 ppg, 41.0 percent) are having the worst offensive seasons of their NBA careers. Foye, meanwhile, has struggled in the past 10 games, shooting just 30.7 percent from the field while averaging 8.4 points.
"We'll see what gives us the best chance," Corbin said. "We may change a little bit and see what help us."
While his team needs more offense from those three starters — or at least some offense — Corbin is trying to be an understanding coach. The former player knows how guys can lose their shot and confidence at points in the season, and he's patiently hopeful the scoring spark will be relit soon.
"They've had good looks ... good shots," he said. "You go through spans like that through the season. We've just got to get better."
Still, getting another offensive weapon back — and their quickest player — would be a big boost when the team readjusts to Williams. And the Jazz coach isn't ruling out his return, either, despite his official listing.
Corbin looks forward to getting the pace of Williams' game back. He also needs a starting point guard to help the other players get easier shots.
"It's a possibility," Corbin said, "if he doesn't have any soreness overnight and gets through shootaround tomorrow."
Corbin said Utah isn't desperate for Williams to return after being out since Dec. 22 when he tore ligaments in his thumb, requiring a Jan. 4 surgery.
But the Jazz point guards have struggled mightily of late, and the team has been forced to use an out of position Alec Burks during key stretches. The second-year guard had six turnovers Monday.
Tinsley left the team before Monday's game to attend a funeral and is expected to return in time for the game against the Cavaliers.
"We'd like to have all of our guys back as soon as we can," Corbin said when asked about Williams' possible return. "It's better for us. We'd like to have as many choices as we can. If he can play, he'll play. If not, we'll move on."19 comments on this story
The Jazz, losers of four of five games, have slipped to the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Utah (32-28) is a half-game behind No. 7 Houston (33-28) but only two games ahead of the surging Lakers (30-30).
And until he gets all of his veterans back — and probably even after that happens — Corbin will rely on youngsters like Kanter, Favors, Burks, Gordon Hayward and DeMarre Carroll to make that push to the playoffs, mistakes and all.
"The guys effort has been tremendous," Corbin said. "You've got to work your way through it."