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Utah Jazz: Sloan names starters for preseason opener

Published: Thursday, Oct. 7 2010 12:23 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Deron Williams. Raja Bell. Andrei Kirilenko. Paul Millsap. Al Jefferson.

That, Utah Jazz fans, is your first starting lineup of the 2010-11 preseason.

There's no guarantee, however, that the first five for tonight's preseason-opener against Portland will stay the same until the regular season opens on Oct. 27.

"We always switch. (Coach Jerry Sloan) switches lineups pretty much every game in the preseason," said Williams, who participated in shootaround after missing Wednesday's practice with what the team's medical staff called "gastric distress."

"This is what he decided the first game. The next game's probably going to be something different. It really matters who finishes games."

Not surprisingly, that was Sloan's thought, too.

"We always have to (have a starting lineup)," Sloan cracked. "I don't know why that's the most important question I get asked, 'Who's going to start?' Now why don't somebody ask who's going to finish?"

Several TV reporters followed Sloan's suggestion and asked just that.

"I'm not telling ya," he joked.

Millsap didn't shy away from the fact that he's pumped up to start at the power forward spot after playing the role of Carlos Boozer's understudy the past four seasons.

"Everybody don't get this opportunity," Millsap said. "I'm getting an opportunity to start and I've got make the best of it."

Kirilenko said he'd start at small forward in part because "Paul's playing 4 very well." He anticipates that players will switch positions throughout the game, including the possibility of Kirilenko playing power forward with Millsap at center while Jefferson rests.

That might even be more necessary because veteran newcomer Francisco Elson was injured at shootaround. The 7-foot center strained his right hamstring and is being listed as questionable by the team.

Elson, who indicated his first-ever hammy injury is "just really sore," said he doubts he'll play tonight in what would be his Jazz debut.

"Luckily it ain't regular season," he said, "so stuff can happen right now and then be ready for the regular season. ... I'm in good shape, so right now it's just a matter of time."

Sloan rattled off several priorities to the game as well.

"The first priority," he said, "is always to win the ballgame."

He also plans on limiting players' court time — "nobody will play 40 minutes," he said — and wants to evaluate aspects needing improvement and how various player combinations work together.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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