Even with Deron Williams out because of a sprained ankle, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Monday he does not plan to alter his thinking about bringing Andrei Kirilenko off the bench for at least the start of the season.
That's the most definitive yet Sloan has been about sticking with the preseason experiment, which includes usual swingman sub C.J. Miles starting in Kirilenko's old spot at small forward and the 2004 NBA All-Star using his energy in a reserve role.
"I hope that works out," said Sloan, whose Jazz close the preseason Thursday vs. Portland and open the regular season Oct. 29 against Denver. "Andrei's played awfully well coming off the bench.
"I think he's made those guys (other Jazz subs) better," Sloan added. "I think he's made those guys a little more comfortable playing the game, and the way he played in the game (Saturday night at Chicago) was really refreshing, because he was playing against a bigger guy, and that puts a lot of pressure on the bigger guy to have to play him."
Again, though, Sloan did not commit to the plan being a long-term proposition.
"There will be some disadvantages, probably, at times," he said, "but ... you just have to wait and see how it works out."
Miles, meanwhile, already is growing quite accustomed to his newfound status as a starter.
"I'm adapting," he said. "I'm finding my spots, just trying to blend in and be a complement to Deron (Williams) and Memo (Okur) and Booz (Carlos Boozer). Just try to make the other guys respect us. That's the same thing (starting shooting guard) Ronnie Brewer's got to do.
"Being able to just go out there and show I can play (in the preseason)," Miles added, "is helping a lot (with) my confidence."
CARRYING THE FRANCHISE: Just what was Miles thinking as he and Brewer carried Williams off the court Saturday at the United Center, where the Jazz's max-money point guard sprained his left ankle in the opening quarter of an exhibition victory over the Bulls?
If I drop him, it might make it worse," Miles said. "That's what I was thinking."
Wrote Hollinger, in part: "Williams has a good chance of passing Steve Nash and Chauncey Billups in the point guard hierarchy given his steady improvement; even last year, his numbers were much stronger after the break than before, including 12.0 assists per game in the second half. And while Carlos Boozer busies himself with the vagaries of the South Florida real estate market, Williams will spend a full year as Utah's unquestioned go-to guy."
Hollinger on Brewer: "If I had to vote one guy as the league's most underrated player, it's him. ... With his playing time likely to increase along with his prominence on a key Western contender, he may not stay underrated for long."
INJURY UPDATE: Guard Brevin Knight (sprained thumb), center Jarron Collins (severe triceps tendinitis) and forward Matt Harpring (ankle rehab) all did not practice Monday.FOOD DRIVE: Radio station KFNZ 1320-AM and the Jazz will host a collection drive for the Utah Food Bank from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. Wednesday at Karl Malone Toyota, 11,453 S. Lone Peak Parkway in Draper. Each bag of non-perishable food donated will be rewarded with one complimentary ticket to Thursday's exhibition game against the Trail Blazers, with a limit of six bags per person.
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