LOS ANGELES — With word out that a replacement would be needed for injured Portland shooting guard Brandon Roy at Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Texas, Jazz point guard Deron Williams — an All-Star himself this season — figured teammate Carlos Boozer was the obvious choice.
"He should be in," Willliams said prior to practice Monday. "Personally, I don't see who else could make it over him."
NBA commissioner David Stern saw otherwise.
A few hours after Williams spoke, Stern on Monday tapped center Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers — the Jazz's opponent tonight in their second-to-last game before the All-Star break — as Roy's replacement.
That being the case, and unless another Western Conference All-Star position opens, it looks like a taco stand in Mexico might get some big business this weekend from at least one Jazz player.
"It'd be great to go," said Boozer, who was still holding hope Monday morning that he'd be called for his third All-Star appearance.
"But ... if not," he added, "then I'll go to Cabo and have some fish tacos."
Pass the white sauce.
Kaman — having his best season, averaging 20.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks — was chosen despite Boozer's similar numbers (19.2 points, 10.8 on boards and 3.2 assists) on a much-better team.
The Clippers are 21-29 and out of the Western Conference playoff picture; the Jazz are 31-18, which at .633 marks the West's third-best winning percentage. Tweeted ESPN.com's John Hollinger, who apparently agreed with Williams' sentiments over Stern's: "Sorry folks, choice of Kaman over Boozer is completely indefensible."
TRADE TALK: With the league's Feb. 18 trade deadline approaching, Boozer's name remains hot in the NBA rumor mill.
New Jersey, however, evidently isn't a potential Jazz dance partner.
According to Monday's New York Post and plugged-in Nets beat writer Fred Kerber, "one team official said don't expect the Nets to be traders in the big man sweepstakes of potential free agents: 'The Jazz are talking to a lot of teams about Boozer but we're not one of them,' the official said."
New Jersey was mentioned as a possible Boozer destination last offseason, but Boozer — a free agent this summer — since has suggested he'd be reluctant to join a team that's lost as much as the four-win Nets have this season.
LOOKING AHEAD: Jerry Sloan sees four straight road games after this weekend's All-Star Game break. Williams sees four consecutive games after the break against teams currently behind the Jazz in the conference standings.
Glass half-empty or half-full, both know what's ahead and as a result see a real need for Utah to keep its current momentum — eight straight wins, 12-of-13 — through its final two games before All-Star weekend.
That would be tonight's on the road against the Clippers, and Wednesday's home game vs. the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers.
"This (tonight's) is an important game," Williams said. "Just as important a game as the Lakers game — just because it's a game we should win, regardless of whether we're on the road or not. But it's not going to be easy. You can't just overlook a team and worry about going on to the Lakers."
"Whoever you play, whatever the situation, the toughest games you have to play are the (ones) it looks like you're supposed to win before you get there," added Sloan, whose Jazz just finished a four-game homestand. "I think there's a certain amount of dropoff sometimes when you play those teams, especially with our team."
With two losses this season to Minnesota and one to Sacramento, Sloan knows. After the break, he also is well-aware, Utah, 9-12 away from home this season, plays 19 of its final 31 games on the road.
"We've got to do a better job of getting out on the road," the Jazz coach said. "That's where we're gonna be for a great deal of the second half."
Contributing: Jody Genessy
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