With 25 games to go, Corbin can't afford to make excuses

Feb 21 2011 - 8:07pm

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(STEVE C. WILSON/The Associated Press) Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin (center left) isn’t making any excuses about the difficult circumstances he’s inherited as a first-time NBA head coach with Utah.
(STEVE C. WILSON/The Associated Press) Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin (center left) isn’t making any excuses about the difficult circumstances he’s inherited as a first-time NBA head coach with Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tyrone Corbin has the job he's always wanted: NBA head coach.

At this point, how he got it doesn't matter. It's his and with 25 games left in the regular season, Corbin can't afford to make excuses for himself or his Utah Jazz team.

Utah is currently tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but has dropped three in a row and six of its last eight games.

The Jazz visit the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, then travel to Indiana on Friday and Detroit on Saturday.

When they finally do return home, they'll play host to the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics on Feb. 28.

"It keeps coming," Corbin said. "Nobody's going to give you a break. The schedule is what it is. So we have to keep working at it."

The 48-year-old former Jazzman was promoted to head coach on Feb. 10, hours after Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan and No. 1 assistant Phil Johnson abruptly resigned their positions.

After playing for Sloan, then serving as an assistant for more than six season, Corbin was a logical choice to take over. And the Jazz ownership gave him full support by refusing to put an "interim" tag in front of his new title.

"He's called coach, not interim," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said rather emphatically.

Now 0-3 in this first three games, but with the support of the organization and his players, Corbin used the All-Star break to catch his breath and get focused on the final stretch before the playoffs.

"I'm still happy to be in the position and I think this team's happy to have me here," Corbin said. "We'll continue to work and we'll get better as time goes. We haven't had much practice time. But we'll continue to work."

Since taking over for Sloan, Corbin has seen the Jazz lose twice to the Phoenix Suns and once to the Golden State Warriors.

All three games seemed to be winnable, but the Jazz executed poorly in the fourth quarter each time.

After the Golden State game, the team split up for the All-Star break. Star point guard Deron Williams took his achy wrist and went to Los Angeles to play for the Western Conference squad.

While in L.A., Williams told reporters his wrist needs a month of rest in order to fully heal. Since that's not an option, he said he would continue to play and deal with whatever pain comes his way.

Corbin said he was happy Williams had the opportunity to play in his second All-Star game, but selfishly wished he would have skipped the game.

Williams played 18 minutes on Sunday, notching five points and eight assists for the West, which won 148-143.

Meanwhile, back in Jazzland, players were recouping and regrouping after a hectic few weeks.

Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur missed time because of injuries before the break, leaving the Jazz with only nine available players.

Forward Paul Millsap said the break was all about relaxing minds and bodies in preparation for the final 25 games.

"We'll be fine for the rest of the season," he said.

Millsap said Corbin has the backing of the team.

"Ty's going to give us confidence," he said. "He's going to give everybody out there a chance. He's going to build their confidence up. He's going to let you play. That's the great thing about him."

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