I was really just trying to execute the plays and defend as hard as possible, try not to mess up. That was basically it. —New Jazzman Malcolm Thomas
LOS ANGELES — Less than a week after being claimed off waivers, new Jazz forward Malcolm Thomas got his first playing experience with Utah on Friday night.
“I was really just trying to execute the plays and defend as hard as possible, try not to mess up," he said. "That was basically it."
Thomas, inactive for Monday’s game, played 10 minutes against the Warriors, going scoreless with one missed shot, one rebound and one turnover. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin told him before the game that he might dress because of injuries to Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors.
“I just try to stay ready, try to stay mentally focused on the game,” Thomas said. “I was lucky enough to get in and I’m glad I didn’t do too bad.”
According to him, that is.
Thomas smiled when sharing the mixed reviews he received.
“My mom,” he said, “was just happy to see me out there.”
His friends probably were, too. They just had to give him grief for his 10-minute performance. He said they teased him. “'Why did you shoot? Oh, you only had one rebound.’ They always give me a hard time no matter what," he said.
Friday was the 17th time the 25-year-old Thomas has played in an NBA game. He played once in San Antonio this season and three times for the Spurs in 2011-12. Last season, the 6-9 athlete played seven times for Chicago and made five appearances with Golden State.
With injuries to Jazz big men Favors (hip), Jeremy Evans (tailbone) and Williams (heel), it’s likely Thomas will continue to get more playing opportunities in the final two months of the season.
“I’ve still got to learn the plays, though, and learn where to be at to help the offense out, help with spacing,” Thomas said. “It will take time, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get there sooner than later.”
Thomas, who lives in San Diego and played for the Aztecs, was looking forward to Saturday’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center. About 10 family members made their way up I-5 for the Jazz game.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Clippers coach Doc Rivers thinks it’s pretty clear what has most helped the Jazz rebound from their 1-14 start.
“(Trey) Burke, to me, has been the biggest difference,” Rivers said. “He got hurt against us in preseason (and) I thought that hurt them.”
Coming into Saturday’s contest, the Jazz were 15-17 with Burke in the starting lineup.
“Now I think they have a guy on the floor that can organize the team and score and do all kinds of stuff,” Rivers said. “Favors (has) played great. Hayward is great every night, in my opinion, but I think having that guy that can organize a young team, even though he’s young, has made a difference.”
SUPER SMACK: He loves football, but Gordon Hayward admitted he isn’t all that invested in the outcome of Sunday's Super Bowl showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.
"I don’t really care because I‘m a Colts fan,” Hayward said. “But I’m going to go with Peyton (Manning) because he played for the Colts.” That’s not the only reason.
With a smile, he added, “And I don't want Marv (Williams) to be wearing all of his Seattle stuff all around the locker room.”
Williams’ response to Hayward's pregame trash talk?
"Man, it’s a lot of hate coming from Gordon right there. A lot of hate,” the Bremerton, Wash., native and lifelong Seahawks fan said, laughing. “A lot of guys are pulling for Denver. I can’t lose, I feel like. Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis were my favorite players growing up. Seattle obviously is my favorite team. (On Sunday) I can’t lose. I win either way.”