Utah Jazz notes: Millsap returns to starting lineup

Published: Saturday, Jan. 3 2009 12:17 a.m. MST

LOS ANGELES — Power forward Paul Millsap returned to the Jazz lineup against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, 10 days after spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Millsap — who wore a brace on the joint Friday — had missed the Jazz's prior three games due to the injury, which was sustained Dec. 23 at Milwaukee.

He was hurt on an ugly-looking play in the first quarter of the game against the Bucks, but returned to play the entire second half anyway.

"It was real crazy," he said of the decision, with the benefit of hindsight. "At the time, I wasn't feeling anything. My adrenaline was running. I was just trying to get out there and help them win the game, and I wasn't really thinking about it.

"You know," Millsap added, "the sad thing is we lost that game."

Millsap said he didn't feel he aggravated the injury by playing like he did.

"I don't think so," he said. "It felt the same way when I walked off on it (initially), and I walked off on it the second time. So, I don't think I did anything to mess it up."

Millsap has been the primary replacement-starter for All-Star Carlos Boozer, who next Friday will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured left knee.

Boozer, who missed his 22nd straight game, did not make the trip to L.A. He is expected to be out at least another month or so.

"It could be longer than that," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Friday. "We'll just have to wait and see. But that's the way it is."

Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had been starting while Millsap was out, returned to his sixth-man role against the Lakers.

COLLINS UPDATE: Also Friday, reserve center Jarron Collins again was on the Jazz's 12-man active roster.

Second-year players Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko both were healthy but inactive.

Collins, who dressed for but did not play in two games late last month, went through his first full-contact practice in more than a month Thursday.

He originally was to have his bruised elbow and sore triceps re-examined Friday, but wound up getting cleared to play earlier than originally anticipated.

Out since Nov. 17 due to an injury initially sustained in an offseason golf-cart accident, the veteran big man suggested the joint — which he previously had considered getting surgically repaired — is about as good as it's going to get for now.

"I just have to have to take it day-by-day," Collins said.

"It's too early to say," Collins added, if the decision to bypass surgery was the right one.

"I have my strength back. My range of motion is good. It's back all the way," he said. "The only thing I still have is just a little bit of inflammation in my elbow, but they said that could take 'a while' to go away."

LOOKING BACK: With the Jazz facing the Lakers on Friday for the first time since L.A. eliminated Utah from the second round of the 2008 NBA playoffs, Sloan was asked what he thought separated the two teams last postseason.

"I thought their size had an effect on us," Sloan said, "and they're bigger (with previously injured center Andrew Bynum back) this year.

"We're not a real long team," he added, "and I'd say that had as much to do with it as anything."

Sloan also agreed that experience might have been a factor.

"Probably," he said. "They have guys that have been around, and they've been together."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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