SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz this week are enjoying a three-day break from games, a rare happenstance in the course of an 82-game NBA season.
It's a short hiatus that couldn't have come at a better time for starting shooting guard Raja Bell, who has missed the past three games with an adductor strain.
Bell is using the break to strengthen and stretch the groin-area muscle, and knows he'll need to continue to do so throughout the season.
He's even considering taking Pilates classes to aid the effort, which is necessary in part because a wrist injury limited him to just six games with Charlotte and Golden State last season.
Sitting out so long took a toll on Bell's 34-year-old body, and now he's paying the price for it — having strained both his left and right adductors already this season.
"You can get your wind back and you can get used to running," he said of returning after missing so much time, "but you're always gonna have little hiccups and maybe little muscle pulls and stuff like that, especially once you reach the 20-, 30-game mark.
"Your body then is really starting to be taxed," added Bell, who rejoined the now 18-8 Jazz for a second stint in Utah when he signed as a free agent in the offseason. "You know, those first 15 games, it's not a taxing thing. You can get through that after not playing for a while.
"But I expected there to be a hiccup or two along the way, probably around 20 or 30 games, just because my body wasn't used to the grind."
The Jazz — who took Tuesday off, practiced Wednesday and will practice again this morning — are calling Bell a "game-time decision" for Friday's visit to New Orleans.
"I'm treating it like I'm gonna play," Bell said.
OKUR TRAVELING: Injured center Mehmet Okur said Wednesday that he plans to travel with the team on its upcoming trip, which includes stops at Milwaukee, Cleveland and Minnesota following Friday's visit with the Hornets.
But Okur still isn't sure when he'll return from the Achilles tendon tear that's kept him out since Game 1 of last April's playoff series with the Denver Nuggets.
"When I know, I'll let you know," Okur jokingly told reporters Wednesday, when he took part in just his second 5-on-5 scrimmage since rupturing the tendon.
On Tuesday, Okur played 2-on-2 with teammates Kyrylo Fesenko, Jeremy Evans and Gordon Hayward.
"He's looking really good," Fesenko said of Okur, a sharpshooting big man. "Finally I think he's really close to being back, I guess. He's running the floor good. He's shooting his shots, all those fadeaways and stuff. You really can't guard him. You can play good defense, and he's still making it.
"Now he's finally got his penetration back … so we have high expectations about him."
MISC.: Fesenko said the sprained ankle that caused him to miss three games last week is "still swollen," and he expects it will be about three months before it's fully healed. Fesenko returned to the Jazz lineup, though, for Monday's win over Golden State. … Jazz players and coaches visited young patients at local hospitals following their practice Wednesday. … Reserve big man Francisco Elson, still in Canada dealing with work visa issues, missed practice as anticipated Wednesday. The Netherlands native still is expected to rejoin the Jazz in time for Friday's game at New Orleans.
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