Andrei Kirilenko was "a little bit shocked" when he was told last week to go to California to get a second opinion on his sore back.

"Everybody so panic about it," he said, "but nothing (to) worry about. That's how I feel.

"Of course, I am worried. Any athlete will worry," Kirilenko said at Sunday night's Utah Jazz practice at Zions Bank Basketball Center.

But the back spasms that caused him to miss the last three games of the recent five-game pre-Christmas road trip are familiar to him. He's had them before and knows they show up annually and take six to seven days to go away.

By Saturday, he was feeling "great," and he is considered probable to play in tonight's Delta Center game against the Memphis Grizzlies at 7.

Kirilenko practiced with the Jazz Christmas night and wanted to find out how the back responded, but before practice, he said, "Basically it feels good and don't bother me moving, running and jumping. Bent, a little uncomfortable."

A back and spine specialist in Los Angeles checked out the MRI and the back and told him, "Everything is normal, just typical NBA player, like nothing worry about," said Kirilenko.

"I'm happy for him," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan about Kirilenko's diagnosis. He noted each athlete has "a certain reality check" when hurt, worrying whether they'll be able to play again, "so I'm happy for the guys when they get back."

BOOZER'S BACK: Carlos Boozer, out since the preseason with a strained/torn hamstring, has been back in Salt Lake City for about a week rehabbing with Jazz personnel. He superstitiously won't say exactly when he expects to return to the court — since the last time he made a prediction he reinjured the hamstring even worse — but it could come "hopefully very soon," he said. "It's gotten a lot better."

Boozer spent the last month working with doctors and therapists in Los Angeles. Now he's apparently back for good and under the care of Jazz trainer Gary Briggs, Jazz physical therapist Moe Forsyth and John Stockton's favorite chiropractor, Craig Buhler.

"It's good to be back around the guys, good to have that energy, especially at Christmas," Boozer said, noting, "I watched every game (on TV). It's tough to watch games, especially when you're not winning."

He's not back practicing yet but seems to be getting closer.

Boozer has heard all those who've questioned why he's been out since last Valentine's Day with foot and hamstring injuries, and he says he's "not worried about them. I've been through much worse already," he said, referring to the bitter way he left Cleveland.

When he does return to the court, he'll quiet doubters. "All they see is you sitting behind the bench in that suit. They don't see you working out. They don't see you lifting weights. They don't see you running. They don't see you doing drills to get better. They just see you're not in uniform.

Comment on this story "It comes with the territory," he said.

EVERY DAY: Kirilenko said he got no Christmas presents Sunday. "In Russia, we have Christmas seventh of January," he explained. He did buy some things for wife Masha and son Fedor and quipped, "Fedor got Christmas every day," being the small son of a rich NBA player who wants everything he sees in the stores. "But he has a rule — he can buy only one. One at the time he goes to the store with us." And that's only every three to five days.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com