Utah Jazz notebook: Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko promise they'll return for playoffs
Ben Margot, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Starting power forward Carlos Boozer plans to return for the start of the playoffs — and so does usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Boozer didn't play in the Jazz's 2009-10 NBA regular-season finale against Phoenix on Wednesday night because of the muscle strain he sustained in Tuesday night's win at Golden State.
The Jazz's leading scorer and rebounder underwent an MRI exam Wednesday, and the Jazz now are calling the injury a strained right-side oblique muscle — stomach-muscle strain, in other words.
Boozer also said he has "a slight tear" in the muscle.
But he's going to play anyway when postseason play gets under way. "I couldn't play (Wednesday night). The pain was too sharp," said Boozer, who sat out for just the fourth time this season. "But I'm going to play this weekend, no matter what."
Boozer said he was hurt late in the first quarter of Tuesday's game — but not on the play shown repeatedly by ESPN.
"I did a move, some kind of move," he said. "I twisted it or something, shot the ball, and I felt it when I did that. ... I went up to get a rebound, felt it even more, tried to run down to the other end, and it was just painful."
Kirilenko, who wound up missing 15 of Utah's last 17 regular-season games, also intends to return when the playoffs begin. "I feel pretty confident that I'll be ready for the first game," he said.
Kirilenko did take part in some pregame warm-ups Wednesday, but he still didn't feel quite right.
"I've tried to do as much as I can, as hard as I can. It's almost there," he said. "Let's say like it's 90 percent and it's close, but it's probably wait for the next game because we have, like, a couple of days between."
Kirilenko suggested the importance of Wednesday's game — homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs was on the line — persuaded him to delay his return.
"Probably if the game (didn't) mean anything, like pickup game," he said, "I'd probably try and I'd play like two or three minutes, don't worry about the result much."
Just how much Kirilenko can be used when he does return remains to be seen.
"How we play him and all those things — we'll have to make that decision," coach Jerry Sloan said, "when he's ready to play."
Kirilenko ended up playing 58 games this season, the fewest he has since a sprained knee and broken wrist limited him to 41 in 2004-05. The previous three seasons before 2009-10, Kirilenko missed only a combined six games.
NO LOPEZ: With second-season center Robin Lopez out because of a lingering back injury, ex-Jazz big man Jarron Collins started Wednesday and has been getting some unexpected late-season playing time for the Suns.
But Phoenix surely misses Lopez, who is averaging 8.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and about a block per game.
"He's just a very talented young man who gave them some solid play at that position for such a young player," Sloan said. "I thought he was very effective for them."
MISC.: Backup power forward Paul Millsap and rookie starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews were the only two Jazz players to appear in all 82 games this season. ... Matthews made 48 starts, one more than point guard Deron Williams did in his rookie season. ... Seven Jazz players made 28 or more starts: Miles (28), Kirilenko (35), Matthews, traded-to-Memphis-in-February Ronnie Brewer (53), Mehmet Okur (73), Williams (76) and Boozer (78).
Contributing: Jody Genessy
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