Utah Jazz: Injuries a sore spot for depleted Jazz, Kirilenko out for series vs. Nuggets

Published: Friday, April 16 2010 9:59 p.m. MDT

Utah's Andre Kirilenko drives the basket as the Utah Jazz host the Memphis Grizzlies.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

DENVER — Usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko is out, for the series. Starting power forward Carlos Boozer may or may not play in Game 1, his earlier declaration notwithstanding. And starting center Mehmet Okur says he'll play, though not nearly at full strength.

Friday proved to be a downer of a day indeed injury-wise for the Jazz, who open their first-round NBA Western Conference playoff series Saturday night against a Denver Nuggets team they haven't faced in the postseason since beating them 4-3 in the 1994 conference semifinals.

"That's part of basketball," coach Jerry Sloan said.

"We want to have a team at full strength," point guard Deron Williams added, "but, you know, what can you do about injuries? You can't make a guy play if they're hurt, you know."

Sloan, though, can only hope all the pain doesn't ding Utah's hopes in the best-of-seven series.

"If you go with the mind, 'Let's try to get it over with, so we don't have to play,' " he said, "you're gonna have a tough time."

Kirilenko actually reinjured his strained left calf — yet again — on Thursday, during what team spokesman Jonathan Rinehart called "a light workout."

He missed 15 of the Jazz's final 17 regular-season games because of the calf — an area of the lower leg that actually is a collection of muscles — and, according to Rinehart, will "miss the next two weeks as we address other treatments."

The Jazz withheld news of the Kirilenko incident for a full day, prompting Sloan to say, "People think we're trying to hide something with these guys when they get hurt, but the bottom line is when they get hurt, we still have to do our job; they have to take care of themselves and get ready to play."

Boozer didn't practice Friday, because of the strained right-side oblique he sustained in Tuesday's win at Golden State — a stomach-muscle injury that kept him out of Wednesday's costly regular season-ending loss to Phoenix.

Boozer, who didn't join other Jazz players in meeting with media members prior to practice Friday, said on Wednesday night that he's "going to play this weekend, no matter what."

The Jazz, however, on Friday were calling their leading scorer and rebounder a "game-time decision" for tonight.

"We have to plan on him being there, from the conversations we've had with him and (trainer) Gary (Briggs)," Sloan said. "But in the event he's not, we're still going to play."

Okur also didn't practice Friday, but he plans to go despite the left Achilles' tendinitis that kept him out of the Jazz's April 9 win at New Orleans — even if it means having to take a pain-alleviating injection sometime Saturday.

"It's still sore, and after the games really swollen," Okur said while peddling a stationary bike. "It just gives me a hard time sometimes.

"This is an injury you have to rest and ice down every day, but I don't have time for that, so I'm gonna go out there, give it my best, and if it really starts to bother me, probably I'm gonna get shot to make it numb and less painful, and we go from there."

Okur said he had "no clue" if his minutes will be limited today, but it's a possibility.

"Hopefully, those guys will be able to play, so we can have a team at full strength," Williams said of Boozer and Okur. "Because I think we're gonna need everybody."

They will not, however, have Kirilenko against Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets — which means backup C.J. Miles, who has been starting in his absence and was a starter throughout the 2008-09 regular season, will open at small forward tonight.

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