PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — The question on many Jazz minds, as it has been often since late February: Will he play tonight?
His latest answer?
"Maybe," Jazz small forward Andrei Kirilenko said prior to practice Monday.
"It's gonna be, probably, a game-time decision," he added. "I have to see ... where I am."
Tonight, technically, he'll be at the Staples Center in L.A. — where Utah faces Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of their second-round NBA playoff series.
As for his progress from a strained left calf that's kept him out of all seven of the Jazz's games this postseason and 22 of their last 24 games overall, Kirilenko — a one-time All-Star and usual starter during the just-completed regular season — participated Monday in a light practice and 2-on-2 drills.
He plans to take part in a team shootaround this morning, too, and then decide about tonight.
If he's not able to go tonight, Kirilenko indicated Monday, he should be ready to play in Game 3 of the series on Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Teammates anxiously await his return but also know he's strained the calf on multiple occasions and in three different areas.
"It's just whenever he comes back," point guard Deron Williams said.
"He's got to put his health first. You know, everybody understands that."
Still, the Jazz seemingly would welcome at least a few minutes from him.
"It definitely would help to have him out there — another body to throw at Kobe (Bryant), maybe Lamar (Odom)," Williams said. "You know, he's so versatile that he can play multiple positions. And what he can do on the offensive end with his passing ability — we're missing that."
Once he does return, coach Jerry Sloan suggested Monday, it shouldn't be long before Kirilenko can get back to being in game shape.
"I would say it will take a little bit less (than other players), because he's a pretty lively guy to begin with — and he's never had a real conditioning problem," Sloan said. "Of course, he hasn't played in a playoff game (this postseason). He hasn't played in a long period of time. We'll have to face that bridge when we get to it."
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