I kept looking at the clock and when 5 o’clock came, I just prayed to God. He blessed me. —Diante Garrett
SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz backup point guard Diante Garrett tried to remain focused on Tuesday's game against OKC, but he couldn’t help but think about that day’s deadline when players with nonguaranteed contracts had to be waived or their salaries became guaranteed.
The Jazz released forward Mike Harris in the morning, but didn’t tell Garrett if they were keeping him or cutting him.
“I tried not to think about it too much. It was in the back of my mind,” he admitted. “I kept looking at the clock and when 5 o’clock came, I just prayed to God. He blessed me.”
Coach Tyrone Corbin reiterated how impressed the organization has been with Garrett since he replaced Jamaal Tinsley on the roster after being signed out of the D-League on Nov. 13.
“We needed a third point,” Corbin said, “and he showed himself well.”
The 6-foot-4 Garrett, who played with the Suns last season, is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 assists in a backup role for starting playmaker Trey Burke.
“When I got into the gym I was working on my game and asking questions and picking the brains of the coaches and the players and trying to get better every day,” Garrett said. “Just staying confident and ready whenever my number was called, I think it helped out.”
Garrett received some congratulatory texts and a special phone call after he survived the deadline.
“My mom called me,” Garrett said. He then used a high-pitched voice to imitate what she told him, “Thank God! My baby!” He laughed and added, “It was good.”
RUSH HOUR: Reserve shooting guard Brandon Rush hadn’t played in four games and went scoreless in six appearances before that until netting five quick points in some rare PT on Tuesday.
“It was getting to me a little bit. ‘Am I ready to be back yet?’” he said, referring to his January 2013 knee surgery. “Guys just told me to just stay with it, ‘You’re going to find shots to make.’ Yesterday was my time.”
Corbin said the window might be open for future playing opportunities.
“He took the right shots. He tried to defend. I thought he did a good job for us,” Corbin said. “He’s been resilient. He’s come every day and worked. I thought last night was a good step in the right way.”
‘T’ TIME: Center Enes Kanter was mystified that he received a technical foul in Tuesday’s game. His response to a reporter’s question drew laughs: “Come on, man!”
“That’s what I said, ‘Come on, man.’ That cost me $2,500,” Kanter said. “After I got that technical foul, I was like, ‘I want to win this game. Seriously.’”
Corbin laughed about the tech. “I thought it was a little bit cheap. I didn’t even hear the ‘Come on, man.’”