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Utah Jazz: Millsap to sit tonight's preseason opener out; Okur to start

Published: Monday, Dec. 19 2011 1:39 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur (13) shoots during practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Paul Millsap's out. Mehmet Okur's back in.

Coach Tyrone Corbin is going with an interesting — and big — lineup in the Utah Jazz's preseason opener tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Because of his right quad tendinitis, Millsap, last season's starting power forward, will sit this exhibition contest out.

As such, tonight's Jazz starters will be Devin Harris, Raja Bell, C.J. Miles, Al Jefferson and Okur.

The 8 p.m. game will be televised on ROOT Sports.

"We'll see how it works out," Corbin said. "We're going to try a few things here. Unfortunately, we only have a couple of games to get it worked out, exhibition games anyway."

This will be Okur's first start since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the 2010 playoffs. The fully recuperated Jazz center only played in 13 games last season because of injuries, and all of those appearances were off the bench.

Corbin likes how Big Al and Memo have "worked well" together in camp, with Okur's outside game stretching defenses and opening things up inside for Jefferson.

The second-year Jazz coach also reiterated that he plans on tinkering with lineup combinations, so it's not set in stone that this will be the eventual starting rotation or even the same five that will begin Wednesday's game.

Millsap's condition obviously factors into that decision as well.

"It's where we are right now," he said.

Both Miles and Bell have impressed in camp. They returned from the long offseason in excellent shape and have played well.

Second-year swingman Gordon Hayward, who's also performed well this fall, could still end up in the starting lineup — a spot he finished in late last season.

Other lineup tweaks remain possible, Corbin admitted. The coach didn't share his strategy but said he has a set number of minutes he'd like to see from certain players tonight, although game flow and fouls can alter those plans.

Millsap said he just wants to be cautious with his injury, and he's officially listed as day-to-day. He didn't play in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, either.

The power forward said he's trying to take a more mature and smarter approach to this injury, knowing how brutal of a schedule is approaching beginning next week.

"It's kind of tough to sit back and watch," the durable 26-year-old said, "but you've got to do it."

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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