Utah Jazz notebook: Blazers, Jazz both missing players
PORTLAND, Ore. — Injuries and player absences were the major themes of the night Thursday at the Rose Garden.
And that was the case for both the shorthanded Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers, who found out that star Brandon Roy will be out indefinitely with a left knee injury.
Various elements sidelined three Jazz players, with Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur both missing this one due to strained lower backs and C.J. Miles sitting it out because of the flu.
It was the second game in a row Utah was forced to play without Kirilenko and Miles, who'd each played in every game of the season before Wednesday.
Okur didn't play after getting injured during the 103-95 win at the Los Angeles Clippers the previous night.
X-rays taken at Staples Center came back negative, but Okur underwent an MRI in Portland on Thursday to see if any damage could be found.
The Jazz won't know the results until Okur's test is reviewed by team doctor Lyle Mason today in Utah.
This injury came two days after Okur returned from missing a couple of games with a sprained right ankle. And that ankle injury came two games into his return from his eight-month-long left Achilles rehab.
Both Miles and Okur stayed at the team hotel for Thursday's game and were unavailable for comment.
Jazz forward Paul Millsap called Okur's snake-bitten streak a "tough situation."
"You've just got to continue to stay positive," he said. "(He'll) continue to get his body right, and he'll be fine."
The Jazz got used to playing without Okur this season after he missed the first 27 games because of his Achilles. His sympathetic teammates are confident that he'll keep a good attitude while trying to recover from his latest setback.
"Memo had problems with his leg for a long time. It's still kind of frustrating," Jazz center Kyrylo Fesenko said. "But I think Memo's a professional player, All-Star, NBA champion (with Detroit). I think he'll bounce back, and I don't see a big deal out of it."
Added Millsap: "You're not going to see (Okur) grumble too much, not going to see him complain too much. He's just got to continue to work."
Though Okur's status is uncertain, Kirilenko and Miles will be game-time decisions Saturday at home against Memphis.
With Roy out, even perhaps for the rest of the season, the Blazers will continue to rely on former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews to produce. He had averaged 18.9 points in 19 starts coming into Thursday's game.
"It's unfortunate," Matthews said of Roy's injury. "But as far as basketball, we have to keep playing, we've got to keep playing hard. Everybody's got to continue to step up.
"On a personal note, you feel bad," Matthews added. "But he needs to heal and he's making the best decision for him, which is what he's supposed to do, and (we'll) pray for him."
The Blazers were also without Greg Oden, Joel Przybilla and Elliot Williams, who are all nursing knee injuries.
NOT SO FREE: Before Thursday's game, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan revealed part of the reason why Fesenko's minutes had been limited.
"He's had moments where he's played pretty well. He's done a pretty good job," Sloan said. "The toughest part for him is that he knows that he's not going to be able to step up there and make his free throws."
Fesenko shot 3 for 8 from the line in Thursday's game, improving his free-throw shooting average to a shoddy 29.6 percent.
"You've got to learn how to step up and make free throws if you get fouled," Sloan said. "We can't shoot 'em for ya."
Fesenko showed signs of progress early against Portland, sinking his first two freebies to raise his successful free throw streak to four. However, Fes then proceeded to miss four straight.
"That's the thing that he's gotta learn to do," Sloan added, "is make 'em with a lot of hard work."
FINAL FOUR: Prior to this road trip, the Jazz had six players who'd seen action in every game. Because of Kirilenko's injury and Miles' illness, Utah is down to four players with perfect playing attendance in 33 contests: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Ronnie Price and Deron Williams.
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