Gameplan remains the same for the Jazz

Dec 29 2011 - 10:15pm


(STEVE GRIFFIN/The Associated Press) Paul Millsap is interviewed following a shoot-around before the Jazz lost to the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
(STEVE GRIFFIN/The Associated Press) Paul Millsap is interviewed following a shoot-around before the Jazz lost to the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Before their season began, coach Tyrone Corbin and his Utah Jazz players had just one simple goal: Compete.

Now two games in to the NBA's compressed 66-game schedule, the Jazz are 0-2 and struggling to find an identity in their odd mix of veterans and youngsters.

As they return home to play host to the Philadelphia 76ers in their home opener, Corbin and his players still have one singular objective.

"Compete as hard as we can every night we step on the floor," Corbin said, when asked about his goals for the team during the 2011-12 season. "Everything else will take care of itself."

So far, the Jazz haven't looked very competitive. They lost by 25 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 27 and by 17 to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

Neither game appeared to be as close as the final score indicated.

"We somewhat fell apart," forward Paul Millsap said after the loss to Denver. "We lost focus. It's still early in the season. We're not going to make excuses about it."

The Jazz aren't making excuses, but some changes could be on the horizon. Although the team did not practice on Thursday, it remains to be seen whether Corbin will juggle his lineup before tonight's game.

Before the season began, Corbin said he felt he had a good mix of players but was still trying to find the right combinations to use at different moments.

Swingman C.J. Miles, 24, is the longest tenured member of the team. He came off the bench in each of the first two games, averaging 19 minutes per contest.

"The biggest thing is to compete every night and we'll give ourselves a chance to win," he said. "You want to say (the No. 1 goal is to) win games, but the biggest thing is, you have to compete to win."

The Jazz do not have any big-name players on their roster and their lack of an identity was evident in the two blowout losses.

Still, Corbin and his players insist they can be successful if they remain united, focused and competitive.

"Our biggest thing is to compete and play hard." Miles added. "We're going to make mistakes, we have a lot of youth, a lot of new faces, a new system. But as long as we're competing and playing we can make up for a lot of those things."

If Corbin does opt to juggle the lineup, Miles and Millsap are two likely candidates to move from the bench to the starting five, replacing Raja Bell and Derrick Favors.

Bell scored six points on 3-for-7 shooting against L.A. and just two points on 1-for-3 shooting against the Nuggets.

Favors is averaging just 17 minutes per game, thanks largely to first-quarter foul trouble.

He is averaging just five points per game.

The Jazz lost their first two games last season, getting blown out by 22 at Denver and losing by 16 at home to Phoenix, before winning seven of their next eight games.

But this season's team is much different than Utah's 2010-11 version.

Coach Jerry Sloan retired and All-Star point guard Deron Williams was traded to New Jersey.

"There will be nights the ball won't bounce your way or whatever it may be," Miles said. "The biggest thing is, every night we want to come out and play hard."

So far, that hasn't happened, at least not for an entire game. The question is, will it happen tonight?

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