SALT LAKE CITY — Practice time is valuable in the NBA.
After a weeklong, four-game road trip, the Utah Jazz returned to Vivint Arena Wednesday for their second win in three games against the struggling Chicago Bulls.
Jazzmen enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day off Thursday with family before returning to practice Friday with an upbeat attitude.
“We’ve had quite a schedule just being on the road and coming back having a game,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “Quick turnaround, so I think it was an appropriate day off yesterday for obviously a lot of reasons and being the fact that it’s a holiday.”
The recovery period was well-needed as the squad was able to game plan for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and the visiting Milwaukee Bucks at 7 p.m. Saturday. A short and crisp practice consisted of film study, individual work and live contact scrimmages to keep the guys sharp.
“As much as anything, we’re not overloading them overloading them both mentally and physically,” Snyder said. “We’ve tried to watch film on the road but sometimes they get tired of that and tired of me, so being away for a day, a lot of times it can kind of clear your mind and make you not just more receptive but more able to process what you’re doing mentally.”
Swedish forward Jonas Jerebko said his Thanksgiving consisted of fast food nearly an hour away with his family and 20-month-old daughter. Returning to work was refreshing as the team was able to fine-tune some things.
He is proud of the team’s ball movement but knows they have to improve on the defensive end without center Rudy Gobert, especially to slow down Antetokounmpo.
Jerebko did not log a single minute in five of his first six games but has started the past six ones, averaging nearly 10 points and five rebounds as the team deals with injuries.
“I know all the Americans had a lot of turkey and stuff, so they had to run it off and get a good sweat in, but it’s practice and time to get better,” Jerebko said. “You don’t get a lot of practices during the year so once you’re out here, you’ve got to have concentration on a high level and obviously we’ve got Milwaukee coming up so we’ve had some specific things for them.”
CORRECTION: For those who have been screwing up Ekpe Udoh’s name for the past few months, the Utah Jazz sent out a press release to clarify the pronunciation. His name is pronounced EPP-ay OO-Doe, not “You-Doe” as sometimes used in the past. His name translates to Lion. The Jazz are tied with the Toronto Raptors for the NBA’s most diverse team with a league-high seven international players listed on the roster.