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Jazz sticking with Josh Howard, despite Game 1 struggles

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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz small forward Josh Howard (8) runs around Portland Trail Blazers small forward Luke Babbitt (8) during the fourth quarter of the game at EnergySolutions Arena Thursday April 26, 2012. The Jazz won the game 96-94.

By Tony Jones

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published May 01 2012 01:15PM
Updated Aug 28, 2012 11:31PM

Despite a scoreless performance in Game 1, despite 16 mostly wasted minutes and despite his struggles, forward Josh Howard again will start for the Jazz in Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Spurs on Wednesday night at San Antonio.

Experience goes a long way, coach Ty Corbin said, as does past playoff performance. And Howard might have the most playoff experience of any player on the roster.

"That means a lot," Corbin said. "He’s got a lot of experience and we really feel that he can help us."

Corbin is expecting a much better performance from Howard on Wednesday night. Howard’s stat line, while bothersome, wasn’t the most worrisome aspect about his opening game in Sunday’s 106-91 defeat at the AT&T Center. He played only 16 minutes, and never seemed to get into the flow of the game.

Corbin is also banking on DeMarre Carroll becoming more comfortable with his backup role, after spending the previous month in the starting lineup. Howard is capable of going on scoring binges.

Corbin knows that. He also knows that Howard is always going to be aggressive and will always look to make an impact, offensively.

"We’ll see how the game develops," Corbin said when asked how much Howard will play. "I’m not going to put a minute cap on it. But we need that experience Josh can bring to the table."

Shock value

Most of the Jazz admitted being surprised with the jump in intensity from the regular season to Sunday’s opening game.

And they all freely admitted to the anticipation of being more comfortable in Game 2.

"We expect to play much better," forward Paul Millsap said. "We know that we can play better than what we did on Sunday, and we know that we expect more out of ourselves. We just have to go out there and do it."

Millsap and Al Jefferson both played well statistically, but had their struggles with Tim Duncan in large stretches. Mostly, they said, the second game is where the adjustments can be made.

"We have a feel for what they want to do now," Jefferson said. "We know what they like and what they don’t like. But they will always be great, and will always be the Spurs so we have to be ready."

The layoff

Most pundits have commented on the Spurs, their veteran core and how much they will benefit from the long wait between games.

The Jazz, however, said on Tuesday that they could use that to their advantage as well.

"It’s time for us to work on what we have to," Corbin said. "We get two solid days of practice and we feel like we’re going to be prepared to play much better on Wednesday."

tjones@sltrib.com

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