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Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson will start vs. Spurs

Published: Saturday, Dec. 31 2011 6:02 p.m. MST

SAN ANTONIO Big Al is back in the starting lineup.

The Utah Jazz waited as long as they possibly could to determine Al Jefferson's availability for tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs, but the starting center will give it a go.

The Jazz's usual starting center missed Friday night's 102-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers because of an inflamed right ankle.

Jefferson worked out and warmed up at the AT&T Center under the watch of trainer Gary Briggs, and they determined 45 minutes before the 6:30 p.m. MT tip that his health had improved enough to try to play.

Jefferson's return sends his one-game replacement, Derrick Favors, to the bench.

In Big Al's center spot Friday, Favors scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds in the Jazz's first win of the season. Before Jefferson was ruled out against the 76ers, however, coach Tyrone Corbin had decided to reinsert Paul Millsap into the starting power forward position.

After two rough starts at power forward and a monster game at center, Favors hopes to keep the momentum going after his big performance.

His plan, Favors explained, is to "just try to play the same way I played. Really not try to go out and get the same numbers, but go out there and do what I did on defense and everything else will come."

Along with Jefferson, the Jazz's opening lineup includes Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward and Millsap.

The Jazz will continue their difficult beginning to the 2011-12 season with back-to-back home games on Monday (New Orleans) and Tuesday (Milwaukee).

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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