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Utah Jazz: Memo's hamstring is likely to keep him out

Published: Sunday, April 19 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

He's officially a game-time decision, but don't count on Mehmet Okur playing for the Jazz Sunday in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Utah's starting center didn't participate in the Jazz shootaround practice Saturday morning and hasn't trained with the team all week since straining his right hamstring against the Clippers on Monday.

Okur says there's "little chance" he'll play in the first-round opener.

C.J. Miles, on the other hand, will likely be available after missing five of the past six games with a dislocated left index finger. The usual starting small forward practiced Saturday and says his finger, which is wrapped with padding, feels good enough to go.

Coach Jerry Sloan said Saturday he's still "mulling" over the starting lineup for this afternoon's game at Staples Center. It ultimately depends on how Okur and Miles feel today. Though he suggested Okur wouldn't start after missing all of the Jazz's practices this week, Sloan left the door slightly open that his 6-11 big man might see some action.

If Okur doesn't start, Sloan said he will again turn to veteran big man Jarron Collins to take to the court at tipoff time and not rookie center Kosta Koufos or second-year reserve Kyrylo Fesenko.

Though Okur says he's improving, the Jazz's second-leading scorer won't predict yet whether he'll even get playing time in Tuesday's Game 2. With his right upper leg tightly wrapped, Okur talked to reporters Saturday morning after shooting free throws and while riding a stationary bicycle.

"I wasn't able to do anything so far, no practice, not even running stuff. But it's getting better right now," said Okur, who missed the regular-season finale Tuesday against the Lakers.

"Little chance to play at least (Sunday), but good thing is I'm getting better," he added. "I can't even run 100 percent, so it's hard to play if you can't run."

Deron Williams believes all the injuries the eighth-seeded Jazz dealt with this past season help them be "better equipped for it," but they certainly hope he returns quickly. They need his 3-point shooting to stretch L.A.'s defense, and his 6-11 frame to help defend L.A.'s talented and tall trio of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.

"We need Memo back as soon as possible," Williams said. "But guys are ready to step in and fill in for him."

Miles, giddy to be back, even stayed after going full speed in shootaround to work on one-on-one drills with Koufos and assistant coach Ty Corbin. His long-range shot also feels good.

"So, my plan is to play (today), that's my plans," he said. "I'm ready to go. Whatever it is, if the minutes are different, if my position is different, whatever it takes, I'm just going to try to just help the team win, that's all I want to do."

Matt Harpring, who started the past two games in Miles' place, said he isn't sure whether he'll start if Miles doesn't.

E-mail: jody@desnews.com

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