Jazz-Bobcats preview: Jefferson, Millsap sit; Kanter, Favors will start

Jazz power forward Paul Millsap and center Al Jefferson will miss tonight’s game with Charlotte. The two have missed games before, but never at the same time.

Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said he will start Enes Kanter, 20, at center and Derrick Favors, 21, at power forward. It’s a youth movement Jazz fans have been waiting for and a move Corbin, who has been somewhat resistant to starting his younger players, is excited about.

“I’m excited for the young guys,” he said. “We’re excited for them to get minutes on the floor to see what they can do. They’ve been working extremely hard all year long for this opportunity.”

Millsap and Jefferson each has a sprained left ankle. Jazzman DeMarre Carroll (left knee) had an MRI on Thursday and has been cleared to play.

The Bobcats (13-44) owns the NBA’s worst record. They will start Byron Mullens, 24, opposite Favors and Bismack Biyombo, 20, against Kanter.

The Jazz (31-27) have lost three in a row, including two at EnergySolutions Arena.

There’s little doubt Jefferson, who averages 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and Millsap (15.1, 7.3) will not return to the starting lineup when they return to the court.

“We are where we are now,” Corbin said, hesitating to look too far into the future. “Al and Paul are guys on this team that happen to be out tonight. (Kanter and Favors) are guys that have worked their way into starting roles and tonight they get to start. I’m excited to see them respond and just play the game, get passed the anxiety and the expectations of whatever that is. We just want them to play at make the right basketball moves.”

Charlotte is led by point guard Kemba Walker (17.6 points, 5.5 assists) and Gerald Henderson (13.4, 3.6 rebounds).

With Jefferson, Millsap and point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery) missing tonight’s game, the Jazz will be shorthanded.

Corbin said he expects to use Jeremy Evans at power forward and even hinted rookie guard Kevin Murphy should be ready to see some time.

Gordon Hayward (14.0, 3.0 rebounds) will continue in his role as sixth man and guard Alec Burks will backup Earl Watson at point guard.

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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