EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After a postgame shower Monday, Al Jefferson gingerly made his way through the locker room. He then grimaced and winced while slowly and uncomfortably dressing and fidgeting in his seat.

Traveling from D.C. to New Jersey and a night's rest didn't help relieve the soreness Big Al felt in his behind a day after crashing to the court hard after a dunk.

"It got worse by the minute," Jefferson said Tuesday morning.

Even so, the Jazz's starting center practiced with the team — it might've been too painful to sit it out considering the circumstances — and definitely plans on playing tonight against New Jersey.

Rookie Gordon Hayward also returned to the practice court after missing Monday's game with a sinus infection.

As you might expect, Jefferson's injury was the, um, butt of at least one teammate joke.

"Ha. You've got a bruised butt," Jazz forward C.J. Miles told him, laughing while Jefferson answered questions about his painful posterior.

"I've got a bruised buttocks," Jefferson said in a correcting response to Miles, who then empathized about how badly injuries in that spot can hurt.

"Yeah, it's painful," Jefferson added. "But you've got to play through that (stuff)."

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES: Asked whether he's most concerned about defense or offense at this point of the season, Deron Williams took the third choice.

That being: C. All of the above.

Especially early on.

"I think both are a concern," Williams said. "Of course, to start ballgames, we're letting people score more than us and we're not scoring the ball, so I think it's both ends of the floor."

And the two play hand-in-hand, he added.

"Games we shoot good, we tend to defend better," Williams said. "We haven't shot good that many games."

The Jazz might be better shooters than Williams gives them credit for, though.

Utah is 22-2 when it outshoots its opponent. Conversely, the Jazz are just 4-12 when outshot.

On the season, Utah averages 46.8 percent from the field, while its opponents have only hit 44.6 percent of their attempts.

FEELING PATRIOTIC?: Even though it came a week after he became a U.S. citizen, Russian native Andrei Kirilenko admitted this trip to the nation's capital didn't hold any special significance.

"Nah," he said. "I'm not involved in the politics. I don't like politics."

In that case, the Jazz might want to swing him by the Lincoln Memorial instead of Capitol Hill if he's on the team on their next visit to Washington, D.C.

SORTA SIMILAR: Tonight's Jazz opponent is only 10-31, which stumps Sloan considering the Nets have players like Brook Lopez and Devin Harris.

"They've got good players on their team," Sloan said. "It's amazing. Some teams struggle a little bit and get in a situation where they struggle, but they just have to fight through it just like we do."

That last part was in reference to Utah's 108-101 loss to the 12-win Wizards on Monday.

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"If you lose to a team like that, what do you do?" Sloan added. "Feel sorry for yourself and cry for two or three days? You better get it out of your system and go play again."

Sounds good. Tipoff's at 5 p.m. at the Prudential Center.

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