SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - When Gordon Hayward hit a last-second shot to beat the Sacramento Kings Friday night, Paul Millsap was on the bench.
Then again Monday night, when the Jazz were completely a thrilling comeback against Denver, Millsap was nowhere to be found.
Now in his seventh year with the Jazz, the longest tenured player on the team and the face of the franchise, has not been on the court during crunch time lately.
"It has kind of caught me off guard," Millsap said about his benching. "I was surprised a little bit, but it worked. You can't really complain when something works."
"Hopefully he handles it well," said head coach Tyrone Corbin. "He's been a true pro ever since he's been here. It's just the way the game went."
Millsap scored just five points against the Nuggets in 23 minutes, after sitting out the entire 4th quarter Friday against the Kings. Over the last five games, Millsap has averaged just eight points in 27 minutes, down from his averages last season of 18 points and 33 minutes.
Millsap has continued to be a starter, but he is losing more minutes to emerging star Derrick Favors down the stretch of games.
"Paul is a professional," said Mo Williams. "I don't see it as him struggling, and I don't see it as a demotion. "This is a deep team. It's nothing to start a controversy about. I just think we're showing our depth."
Marvin Williams is another starter who has found himself on the bench in the final minutes. But, like Millsap, he's not making any waves about his minutes.
"As a head coach [Corbin] has to go with what he feels is right out there at that moment," Williams said. "Some nights, it's not going to be your night and some nights it is. Paul and I are professionals, and at the end of the day, whether we close or don't close we're still going to be ready."
Millsap knows he has been struggling. He has shot just 34 percent from the field over the last five games. So, being the tireless worker that he is, Millsap was the first player at practice Tuesday morning.
"I'm not working on anything in particular," Millsap said. "I just need to be more aggressive. You just have to continue to stay positive. It's nothing I haven't been through before. It's just one of those obstacles you have to climb."
The Jazz next take on the Hornets in New Orleans Wednesday night.