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News » Jazz rookies had to grow up quickly

Jazz rookies had to grow up quickly

Jazz rookies had to grow up quickly In a weekend, two Jazz rookies grew up. Big-time. "They're more confident," forward Carlos Boozer said after a four-game Eastern road trip that ended with starting point guard Deron Williams back in Utah tending to an ill child, a win Friday at Philadelphia without him and a loss Saturday in Cleveland. "It's hard to take positive things out of a loss," Boozer added.

"We feel like we should have won. But you can take a couple of things out: Eric Maynor and Wes(ley) Matthews stepped in huge and played great these last two games." Maynor had a 13-point, 11-assist double-double in his first NBA start Friday, and Matthews scored a season-high 16 points in his, including 3-for-4 3-point shooting. Maynor followed with a season-high 24 points Saturday, when Matthews had 13, including 3-for-3 from behind the long-distance line for a 4-6 club desperately in need of consistent outside shooting. "They're unbelievable," forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "They really step up. All I can wish (for) them before the season is 'Don't be afraid to play.' That's how they play. When they're not afraid to play, they're unbelievable." Hard as it may be to fathom in a Jazz world where rookies generally are to be seen but not heard, the two ? point guard Maynor, a first-round draft choice from Virginia Commonwealth, and Matthews, an undrafted swingman out of Marquette, even seem to have won the faith of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "That's what happens," Sloan said. "Guys get a chance to play. "You know, I put Eric in the game earlier (this season) ? and it probably cost him a little bit because... things didn't go well for him. But now he got a chance to play some minutes and show what he can do. "So, at least you have a chance for these guys to grow and get better," he added. "It gives us another opportunity to make a change if we have to." Which means it should be interesting whenever backup point Ronnie Price is ready to return from a sprained left big toe, which could happen as soon as Wednesday night's home game against Toronto. The Jazz are off until then. Williams may be back Wednesday too. "I'll have a lot more (trust in Maynor)," Sloan said, "because I hadn't seen him play except in practice and that sort of thing. "But Ronnie Price gets hurt, and that's what happens." As for Maynor and Matthews themselves, neither seems to be letting things go to their heads. Maynor prefaced his answer to a postgame question Saturday about he's helped him selfish by saying, "First of all, I'm not into myself," then mentioning how much losing hurt. But he did concede the point. "It boosted my confidence just to be able to come out on the road two nights in a row and play the way I played," Maynor said. "I think Coach, I gave him more confidence in me. For sure. So I guess we'll see how that goes." From floaters and bank shots to pick-and-roll plays and crisp passes, Maynor really did impress. Yet he acted like it was no big deal. "Just playing Basketball," he said. "That's it. Just taking what the defense gives me. "Coach (Sloan) gives everybody the freedom to just go play. You know, 'You do what you do the best.' That's what he says," Maynor added. "So, that's what I did, I think. If I was open, I took a shot. If somebody else was open, I gave the ball up. It's as simple as that." Matthews, meanwhile, said he all he wanted to do was "be ready." And he was, knocking down one 3 after another. "All of sudden thrown into the starting lineup, all of a sudden playing big-time minutes, sometimes bringing the ball up the court, asked to run the offense," he said. "Just be ready. Be prepared. And I feel good about it. "If you had to take... a moral victory from (Saturday's loss), I think we learned a little bit about ourselves," Maynor added. "But I like Ws." e-mail:

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Added: November 17, 2009


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