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Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles settling into new sixth-man role

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Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) drives on Philadelphia 76ers forward Matisse Thybulle (22) as the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers play an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City at Vivint SmartHome Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Jazz won 106-104.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — During each of the past two seasons, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles has started at least 81 games, becoming a fixture in the starting lineup with his deft ballhandling, deadeye shooting and all-out hustle on both ends of the court while playing just over 31 minutes per game. This season, however, the Aussie native has been asked to shift roles and become the team’s top reserve, which admittedly has been an adjustment but one Ingles said he is learning to accept.

“I feel comfortable. Probably more and more comfortable each game,” he said after the team’s shootaround Wednesday at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus. “It’s definitely different from starting but you just figure it out along the way.”

Noting that while it’s been a few years since he came off the bench with the Jazz, he said it will be just a matter of time until he is able to discern what adjustments he’ll need to make to be at his best. He said being able to sit during the initial minutes of each game gives him a chance to observe the flow and read how teams are playing on both ends of the floor, how aggressive the play is, and how the referees are calling the action.

“It’s different, but it’s something I’m enjoying, embracing and will keep working at,” he said.

Because Ingles is the sixth man on a versatile squad, he still logs significant time each game, which enables him to do the things he’s best at whenever he’s in the lineup, he noted.

“The only difference really for me is just that I’m not out there at the tip(off) and it’s just when I come in at whatever the point of the first quarter,” he said. “It’s just kind of a different role, you embrace it and you try and do the best you can. And I definitely think I’ve got a lot to improve. I hope I can get a lot better.”

Ingles said one of the nuances he’s trying to get used to is figuring out where to be aggressive when he enters the game and also recognizing which teammates he’s playing with at the time.

“Offense, defense — on both ends of the floor — figuring that out. I’ll keep watching the film and see where I can keep getting better,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to win a game so whatever I can do to help us win. Obviously, I’ll do that.”

Ingles added that he has looked at the example of fellow countryman Patty Mills, who’s been a pivotal bench player for the San Antonio Spurs for nearly his whole career as well as conferring with other veterans who’ve been in a similar position.

“I actually spoke to (Pelicans guard) JJ (Redick) when we were in New Orleans,” Ingles said. He said the advice he received could prove useful as the season progresses.

“Just figuring out different ways of what they do, what their routine is (and) if there’s anything I can steal or use that can help me or help our team win games — (that’s what) I’m going to do,” Ingles said.

Jazz Head coach Quin Snyder said Ingles is a professional who will do what is required to adapt to his new role off the bench.

“He takes pride in how he plays no matter when he’s playing,” he said. “There is definitely a preparation component when you’re used to being announced and starting — you’re looser.”

“We’ve talked about trying to standardize where he’s going to go in the game so he can get on the bike (to get loose) or do whatever,” Snyder added. “There’s all kinds of little nuances that do have a bottom line impact, and normalizing that has been important.”

Regarding Ingles conferring with Mills about understanding how to be effective in a reserve role, Snyder acknowledged speaking with him on the subject.

“He mentioned to me that he was talking to Patty, and I think the more information that he can get and the more comfortable he can feel, the better,“ Snyder said.