Here’s what Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin had to say about Raja Bell returning and about his decision to keep Josh Howard in the starting lineup while sending Gordon Hayward to the bench with the second unit (click here for the updated article from this morning’s shootaround):
Corbin: I’m almost certain he’ll go. He looked pretty good. We had a good workout yesterday and he’s not feeling sore today, so I’m pretty sure he’ll play tonight.
Will he start?
Corbin: Yeah, we have to. (He’s) coming off an injury. He’s been a starter. We’ll start him and probably we’ll bring Gordon off the bench and keep Josh in there. And we’ll make adjustments from there.
Are you worried that that will affect Gordon?
Corbin: I talked to him a little bit, and he understand. It’s not alike a demotion. It’s a thing where we can probably get a chance to go to him more with that second group, get the ball in his hands, pick up the tempo a little bit for us with the other group.
I think he’ll respond to it. He’s been great. He’s been great. I expect him to continue to develop and be an asset for us.
What’s the thought process behind this move?
Corbin: I like what we’re getting from Josh with the starting group, the way he cut off with Al posting up, he can read situations a little better. Coming off down screens he gives us another option there.
And with Gordon, it’s a way we can get the ball in his hands more with the second group and be able to run a few more plays through him and also pick the tempo up for us up a little bit. Lately, we’ve gotten a little stagnant with that group, especially in the beginning. If you look at the game the other night in Dallas, the second time they went in they were a little better. we need to be able to get that going a little sooner.
Keep one shooter in the starting lineup?
Corbin: It’s a good mix. You need some perimeter shooting, especially with Al and Paul in the post. Teams are just really starting to smash in on them, focus in on what they’re doing in there. They actually starting to front us a lot more now and rotating …. So as versatile as we can be there with guys being able to make shots from the outside that actually open up the game for them a little bit. But also it gives us a chance to give Gordon the ball a little bit more and I think he’ll make great plays. He’ll be able to help that second group by being able to put the ball in his hands more.
Your starting group is now very veteran heavy.
Corbin: Absolutely. Other than Jamaal that’s the most experience we have on this team and they’re all in the game at the same time. It should give us a chance, especially in the beginning of the game. These veteran guys know how to prepare themselves to play. We’re going down the stretch here, getting ready for the playoffs, trying to finish up to be able to get in the playoffs. It should give us a chance to get off early. Back-to-back nights we might have to sub a little big differently to kind of keep them fresher. But I’m exited about the opportunity.
What do you expect to be the backcourt with Gordon?
Corbin: It will change some. We can play Gordon and Alec together. We can put Gordon with C.J. and Earl. It gives us a lot more versatility. The three guys can be on the same floor at the same time at times if we get in foul trouble situation where we can have Alec, Gordon and C.J. on the floor. Either one of those three guys can initiate the play for us.
So you can end up with a reserve lineup with four guys 21 or under.
Corbin: Well, that’s what it is. That’s what we have on the roster. Fortunately for us, it’s not at the beginning of the season. We have a history, so we have a better feel for guys of what they’re going to do. We have a better feel for their experience now. They understand more the magnitude of what we’re doing. That’s what scared me in the beginning of the year is that we were so young together. Now we’re halfway through the season. They have some games under their belt. They know what to expect a little more than before and we’ll see how they respond. It may not be a chance it’ll happen, but certainly the opportunity may present itself at some point.
Will Gordon get the same amount of minutes?
Corbin: I think so. I don’t think it will affect his minutes as much. He’ll be in there and he’ll be playing for us. Different times, different guys going it may affect the time some, but he’s going to play. What number of minutes that is I don’t know. There’s not a demotion. It’s just something that we think gives us a better chance.
This seems to be more of a now move than a future move. Is that accurate?
Corbin: It’s where we are right now. You never know how things develop, but right now it helps us because the way Josh has played. Raja coming (back) gives us his shooting and his defensive presence and an opportunity to be able to give Gordon the ball more with the second group. We can put it in his hands a little more and he can make plays for us.
So he’ll get the green light a little bit more?
Corbin: Well, we don’t want to call it that. (Laughs)
What are your thoughts on where your Jazz are at today as playoffs are around the corner?
Corbin: We’re in the mix. We got a chance to get in there. We’re not in there right now record-wise, but we have an excellent opportunity to finish up strong here. Each and every game counts. We can’t afford to have any more slippage of games that we should win, and that’s against anybody. We want to go out. We think we should win each game we step out there on the floor, but we can’t afford games that we should have a chance to win more and we’ve lost some in the past because we weren’t ready. And we’ve got to make sure we take care of our business.
When season started you were reluctant to start Howard, when did you start considering him as a starter?
Corbin: Just before he got hurt. He was starting to click. I was like man he adds (a) different dynamic for us. And because of he how he know when Al has the ball on the block, we have a tendency to stand and watch him. With Paul stepping in some and Josh being a veteran and being able to read when he can cut and how he can cut and not get in his way and occupy a guy to free it up and get a couple of layups. When he came back and Raja got out and he got back into game shape I thought the time is now. We get a little bit more experience with the starting group as we finish up and then we can add Gordon, another ballhandler, with that second group with more experience now, he’s used to playing against starters now with another group. It gives us a better chance of attacking and hopefully it will work.
You like Bell and Howard together?
Corbin: Oh yeah. They’re veteran guys. They know how to cut, space the floor, hit shots and Al and Paul on the block with Devin’s speed now coming up the floor, I think it’s a good mix of guys.
Could this be permanent?
Corbin: Yeah, if it go well, we could go with it for a while. It may be a good way to finish up here and give us a great chance. As long as we’re able to get the production from both groups, then we’ll be in good shape.
How long will you let it ride?
Corbin: I can’t say a number of games. We’ve just got to look and see how it develop. … We need to be able to win road games and I think this gives us a better chance coming out of the box.
So you’re relying on veterans to set the tone?
Corbin: How to set the tone, how to get us started. But the concern now is that I’ve got more young guys on the floor with the second group now. It’s to get us a chance to get off early to a good start, but then to find a way to see how the young guys (are) going if not be able to bring one or two of the veteran guys back a little bit sooner to be able to finish to not have the lulls that we’ve been having when we can get a lead and maybe build on it a little bit more instead of that team hanging around. I think it gives us more versatility.