SALT LAKE CITY — With two key regular season games remaining and the playoffs about a week away, the Utah Jazz had an encouraging development on the injury front today.
Starting center Mehmet Okur made it through Sunday morning's full practice. He left Wednesday's loss at Houston early and missed Friday's game in New Orleans with tendinitis in his Achilles tendon.
Usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who's missed nearly a month of action with left calf injuries, also participated in half of the Jazz's workout at the training center. He took part in all of the running and shooting drills but sat out the full speed five-on-five work, according to a team spokesman.
Both hope to return to the court either Tuesday or Wednesday, ideally both nights, before the Jazz enter postseason play next weekend.
"Yeah, I'll be out there probably (Tuesday at Golden State)," Okur said before practice Sunday — a day after an MRI revealed that his injury is tendinitis with no further tissue tears or damage.
"Feeling better today," Okur said, adding that it's not nearly as tight as it was when injuring it Wednesday in Houston.
"I'm glad it's not really big deal, my Achilles," he said. "And hopefully play last two games and be ready to go at playoffs."
As for Kirilenko, he is slowly but surely progressing and believes he'll play this week — in the regular season and playoffs.
"I'm definitely feel(ing) way better," he said.
Kirilenko, who's missed 13 of the past 15 games with calf injuries, said it might take him between three to five days once he's able to go all-out to get his conditioning back in tip-top shape. He plans on going "100 percent" when he returns, though it's hard not to think back and remember that he re-injured the same calf when he came back the first time after missing some games last month.
"It is in the back of my mind," he said. "So what I'm trying to do right now is kind of reduce those risks, but you can't avoid it."7 comments on this story
Coach Jerry Sloan said he still isn't sure whether he'll reinsert Kirilenko back into the starting lineup when he does return, saying that he's pleased with how wings C.J. Miles and Wesley Matthews have been playing in the starting lineup in his absence.
"It's been so long and these younger guys seem to be playing pretty good to get started. I don't know," Sloan said when asked if Kirilenko would resume his starting role. "That's a fair question; I just can't answer it directly right now."