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Jazz notes: Dante Exum working his way out of frustrating period

SALT LAKE CITY — Dante Exum admitted he was bummed after not having his name called to play Monday night in Minnesota.

It was the third-year pro’s first DNP-CD (did not play-coach’s decision) in his career.

“Obviously when there’s something like that when your minutes go down, your confidence can go down,” Exum said, “and I think it did for a second.”

Exum said it didn’t stay down.

“I brought it back up,” the point guard said. “I was in the gym the next day working on it. That’s where I built the confidence back up, and I’m ready to go.”

Exum’s playing time has been erratic this season as the 21-year-old works his way back from a knee surgery that kept him sidelined the entire 2015-16 season. During an 11-game stretch in November, Exum logged between 20-35 minutes in 10 games.

His time dropped drastically when George Hill returned from his first injury (sprained thumb) this season. In Hill’s first four games back, Exum played a combined 21 minutes, including the goose egg against the Timberwolves.

Exum was a bright spot in the first half Saturday before being slowed in the second half due to tendinitis in his left knee. He finished with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists in the Jazz's 105-98 win over Denver.

“I’m trying to do whatever I can to make the team win. That’s what Quin (Snyder) sees,” Exum said earlier in the day. “Obviously, I’m going to be on the bench cheering the guys on, and that’s what I tried to do. Obviously, I want to be on the court and give what I can when I’m out there.”

Snyder was asked after Saturday’s shootaround — hours before Exum started for the second time for Hill (big toe injury) — if his Aussie guard has been discouraged.

“I don’t know why he would be,” the Jazz coach said.

Snyder pointed out that it often takes time, energy and adversity for young players to grow. In that sense, this up-and-down period could be quite beneficial for Exum if he takes on the challenge.

“If you don’t have adversity, it’s hard to have the impetus to improve,” Snyder said. “Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) used to always say it takes fire to make steel. So we can get him to walk through the fire a little bit. I have a lot of faith in Dante’s character and his work ethic.”

NEW NORMAL: Snyder was asked if things will get back to normal this season after injuries have forced the team to use 11 different starting lineups.

“It’s a good question. We’d have to define normal. The new normal,” Snyder said. “We’ve had a tough go of it with those things. Part of it is the enthusiasm that sometimes gets generated when we’ve had our team and we’ve played well. And then our own expectations get set and there’s a reality that sometimes you don’t ever want to accept as an excuse or a reason for your team not being as good.”

YOU AGAIN?!: Saturday was the third time the Jazz played the Nuggets in two weeks. Denver won the first matchup at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 20, 105-91, and Utah defended its home court a few days later, 108-83.

“There’s always different variables,” Snyder said, “but it is unusual to play a team three times in a two-week span. That’s the way the NBA schedule goes.”

The teams get a month and a half break before playing each other again in Denver on Jan. 24.