Tinsley quietly had three big games in losing efforts for the Jazz prior to his recent stretch of significant minutes. In early January, he scored nine points and had 13 assists against the Golden State Warriors in a 119-101 loss.
He again went dormant on the Jazz bench until a March 10 game against the Chicago Bulls. He posted 6 points and 10 assists in 23 minutes, while hitting his only two three-point attempts.
Two days later, he did not play against the Detroit Pistons, then his recent streak of significance started.
On March 14, Tinsley again played 23, this time scoring 11 points while adding eight assists and 3 rebounds. Those 23 minutes also came in a losing effort, this time to the Phoenix Suns (120-111).
The very next night, Tinsley played 21 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 111- 105 victory. He only scored six points, but he shot 60 percent from the field and added five assists.
More importantly, he seemed to bring a new energy to the floor, a certain energy only a veteran point guard possesses.
He was not called on simply due to a change in the lineup, Earl Watson’s injury made his minutes on the floor a necessity. Though Watson also brings veteran savvy to the court, he mainly facilitates points and rarely has double-digit scoring nights.
In fact Watson has only scored in double digits twice this season, despite averaging 21.5 minutes per game.
Against the Golden State Warriors two nights later, Tinsley again played his now thematic 23 minutes. He shot six for 10 from the field (1-2 from behind the arc), and scored 13 points. Those were much needed points, as Al Jefferson, the team’s leading scorer, was away from the squad.
He had a quiet night against the Los Angeles Lakers days later, scoring only two points and handing out two assist in 14 minutes, but his efforts were part of a rare 103-99 victory at the Staples Center.
Back in Salt Lake City, he scored 11 points and handed out three assists in a huge 97-90 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In the Jazz’s recent 103-102 victory against the Sacramento Kings, Tinsley had an off night shooting, making only three of 10 shots.
He did score six points while adding eight assists, three rebounds and two blocks. Plus, he made a nice, crafty move to assist an easy Derrick Favors dunk at the expense of Donte Greene with an old off-the-defender’s back play.
Obviously, the major role-players for the team all season are the key reasons the Jazz can even think about the playoffs, but Tinsley has added just enough recently to help the Jazz pull out some victories.
His contributions could not have come at a better time, since the Jazz were slowly fading out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Thanks in part to Tinsley’s recent resurgence, though not huge in any magnitude, Utah is again looking like a playoff contender.
As a Jazz fan, I cannot be grateful enough for contributions like this, especially from those who you least expect to add much-needed points and assists to a now confident playoff contender.
If the Jazz can maintain this confidence level through their next 19 games, they will be well-situated to not only make the playoffs, but to make some Noise!