SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Life without Mo began on a high note Wednesday night.
Less than two hours after learning starting point guard Mo Williams will undergo surgery on his thumb and will be out roughly two months, the Jazz roughed up the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-84.
But how long can they remain in playoff contention without their floor leader?
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," head coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We can't look around the corner and see what's going to happen. This is who we have, and we have to figure out how we can be as good as we can with this group."
"What happened to Mo is what happens everyday in the NBA," said center Al Jefferson. "It just sucks that one of our fallen brothers has to be out for a while, but it could be worse. He could be out for the rest of the year. We just have to hold it down for him until he gets back."
Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson have both played well in Williams' absence. Against the Timberwolves, Tinsley scored 12 points while Watson dished out a team-high nine assists. Between them, Tinsley and Watson have started 599 games in their careers. But while both players have shown the ability to run the Jazz offense, neither is considered to be a serious scoring threat, and both struggle defensively against quicker, younger point guards.
"Basketball is a great parallel to life," Watson said. "You can't change who you are. You have to be true to yourself, be prepared and play hard. People will respect it and eventually embrace it, so never change who you are."
"I'm ready," said Tinsley. "I'm in shape and when my number is called, I'm always ready to go out there and play hard. I'll do whatever it takes to help this organization win ball games."
Speculation among Jazz fans is that the team will make a trade to acquire a front-line point guard. Al Jefferson ($15 million) and Paul Millsap ($8.6 million) are both in the final years of their contracts and would be attractive players in a trade. One or both could be dealt to acquire a point guard, which would also open up more playing time for Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
The Jazz players do not want to speculate about possible trades, though. What they'll miss most about Williams is his leadership on and off the court.
"It's going to be tough for us," said Corbin. "But we have quality guys on this club and high character guys who understand that we all have to pick it up. Mo is a big part of who we are and we're going to miss him, but we have to pick it up in his absence."
"We're blessed with lot of depth," added forward Gordon Hayward. "It's going to be tough to be without Mo, but we have two veteran point guards who have seen it all. They're great leaders by themselves, so we're going to have to lean on them."
The Jazz play the five of their next six games on the road, beginning Friday night at Phoenix.