ANAHEIM, Calif. — Friday’s game in the Honda Center capped a lengthy stay for the Utah Jazz in Southern California. They’ve been in and around Los Angeles since arriving here from Oklahoma City last Sunday.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said the extended California stay, which included two games against the Lakers and one against the Clippers, was beneficial for a variety of reasons —most notably spending a lot of time together.
“You want to get the guys out in a road situation and let them bond as a team,” he said.
The players agreed.
“It’s good because of friendships,” said center Enes Kanter. “We’re getting along better before the real season starts. So it’s a good start.”
The swing capped the preseason for Utah. The Jazz open the regular season Wednesday night at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I feel like we’ve gotten better on this road trip and guys are feeling more comfortable in the system,” said veteran forward Richard Jefferson.
Besides getting to know one another better, guard John Lucas III noted that the long journey away has everybody focused on getting the season going. He said the team is tuned in and locked in, dedicated to being part of something that’s up and coming.
“I love road trips. It makes us become one,” Lucas added. “When you’re on the road, that’s the time you bond.”
The Jazz were scheduled to fly home after Friday’s game. They haven’t been in Salt Lake City since leaving for Oklahoma City last Saturday afternoon.
READY TO ROLL: Gordon Hayward and Jefferson both expressed excitement about the regular season tipping off on Wednesday.
“I’m ready. It’s been a long preseason,” Hayward said. “Eight games is a lot. But hopefully we can use it as a learning process and grow from it and get ready for the home opener.”
For Jefferson, he’s looking forward to his 13th season in the NBA
“It's awesome. Especially when you see more and more guys that you came in with or played with not being able to get jobs or getting waived, or retiring,” Jefferson said. “So the fact that I’m blessed to be able to play another year, I don’t take that for granted.”
SHARMAN HONORED: A moment of silence was held before the game in memory of Bill Sharman, who passed away earlier in the day at the age of 87. Sharman coached the Utah Stars to the 1971 ABA championship and the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1972 NBA title.
“He had a way of getting the best out of his players,” said Jazz broadcaster Ron Boone, who played for Sharman in Utah. “He’s a legend, a Hall of Famer. He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest.”
CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC: The Jazz didn’t arrive at the Honda Center Friday until 5:48 p.m. It took more than an hour and a half for the team bus to cover the 40 miles or so from Marina del Rey to Anaheim because of L.A. freeway traffic.
“That’s a different kind of bonding we can do without,” Corbin said.
EXTRA STUFF: Jazz officials declined to comment on reports of re-signing Jamaal Tinsley. The veteran point guard was not with the team on Friday and no roster moves were made before the exhibition finale. Former Utah assistant Scott Layden, now with the San Antonio Spurs, scouted the game. The Jazz watched the ESPN film “Unguarded” about former basketball star Chris Herren’s successful battle to overcome alcohol and drug addiction on the bus ride to the game.
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