Lazeric Jones’ lack of aggressiveness cost him playing time
Lazeric Jones could have played more in the second half against Washington.
The issue wasn’t so much the UCLA point guard’s troublesome tendon on the middle finger of his right hand as it was Coach Ben Howland’s reluctance to use a player he felt was tentative as a result of an injury.
“When he went in the game to start the second half I thought he was OK, but he just wasn’t aggressive,” Howland said after the Bruins’ 74-63 loss to Washington on Friday at Pauley Pavilion. “He has to be looking to score to be at his best.”
Jones played only seven of his season-low 16 minutes in the second half and did not take a shot. He had misfired on his three shots in the first half, when he suffered the injury, and finished with a career-low three points and three assists.
With Jones on the bench for long stretches, guard Malcolm Lee played all but one minute of the second half and 39 minutes overall. Lee made four of nine shots, including only one of four from beyond the three-point arc.
“I probably played Malcolm too many minutes,” Howland said, “so you have to give him a break on that.”
Jones was not available for comment after the game. Howland said the junior would wear a splint on his finger 24 hours a day for the next month.
“We need him in there,” Howland said. “I’m hoping he’s going to be able to learn to play with this thing and be OK.”
No more hedging?
Howland said he was reconsidering the way he has Joshua Smith defend ball screens in the wake of the freshman center’s foul trouble against the Huskies.
Smith fouled out for the first time in his career after committing two of his five fouls while hedging screens.
“On the hedges out there, I was late almost every time,” Smith said. “When you’re late, things like that happen.”
Howland said there was another way for Smith to combat screens.
“We may have to use him as a plug instead of a hedge,” Howland said, “which means then he’s going to have little guys coming right at him all the time trying to cross him over and he’s going to have to be able to play defense without reaching or gambling, and that’s also a foul opportunity.”
Howland said that wasn’t his preference because he likes to have his big men hedge screens.
“So I don’t know if it’s going to be any better in terms of foul trouble,” Howland said of the alternate approach. “It might be easier for him because he’s not sprinting out there.”
The Bruins took Saturday off and are scheduled for a film session Sunday before resuming practice in preparation for their next game, against USC on Jan. 9 at the Galen Center.
“We wanted to come out of the weekend 2-0,” sophomore forward Reeves Nelson said, “but I think we’re going to have a good week of practice after this and try to improve where we need to. I think we’ll just rebound and work hard and see what happens.”
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