SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack smiled when asked how different it was to be coached by Igor Kokoskov than Quin Snyder after Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"He's not making the faces Coach Q will make when somebody messes up,” Mack joked. "He's a great coach, very positive. He gives everyone confidence, just tells us to play and everyone was able to make some plays."
Snyder and his occasionally grimacing and menacing facial gestures returned to the sideline for Tuesday’s game after he missed the road win over the Lakers with an illness.
The Jazz coach said Monday was the first time in his 20 years of coaching that he had to miss a game.
“I thought I might feel better,” he said. “I kept hoping I would feel better, actually got worse. I am better today.”
Snyder was moved from the small visitors locker room where the coaches’ office is about as big as a closet to the Los Angeles Kings locker room as the Jazz played the Lakers at Staples Center.
“It was strange,” Snyder said. “I had a small fever and then about midway through the third quarter my fever jumped to over 103, so it was good I wasn’t out there. It would have been unfair to the players and the staff.”
With Kokoskov calling the shots, the Jazz defeated the Lakers 107-101.
“I have so much respect and confidence in our staff,” Snyder said. “Igor did a great job and collectively they did well.”
Kokoskov has experience as an assistant coach in the NBA with multiple teams, but he has coached the Georgian and Slovenian national teams for the past 10 years. Snyder appreciated how his lead assistant handled his first taste of being the bench boss during an NBA game.
“I know my place. I’m not a head coach, and I was trying,” Kokoskov said. “But there is no replica to Coach Snyder. This is his team. He is such a great teacher and leader, so I was just happy that I was part of this group. I’m happy that we won this game.”
Jazz players were appreciative of Kokoskov’s pinch-hitting performance.
“He was great. It was fun, and I think he was a bit nervous,” Gobert said. “But it was great. Igor is a smart guy and at the end of the day we players just have to do what we have to do on the court, and we did our job.”
Gordon Hayward admitted it was a bit different.
“That’s the first time I’d ever had that happen, Quin is our leader, so it definitely was a different situation for us. I though Coach Igor and the rest of the staff did a great job tonight of handling that. Figuring out right before the game that you’re going to have to be the head coach has to be a challenging undertaking, but overall I thought he did a great job and it was a great win for us.”