LOS ANGELES — The Jazz took Sunday off from practice. It was, however, anything but a day of rest for Mehmet Okur.
Utah's starting center went through two separate treatment sessions Sunday in hopes of bouncing back from his rough return to the lineup Saturday and in an effort to continue the healing process with his still-hurting strained right hamstring.
Before Monday's tipoff, Okur said it was well worth the extra effort, which included applications of ice and steam, stretching and 30 minutes of jumping and jogging in a pool.
"It was more sore (Sunday)," Okur said. "I knew it was going to feel better and finally I start to feel better, so I knew I was going to play (in Game 5)."
Okur ended up with xx points and xx rebounds on Monday.
Okur said he wasn't looking at Monday's game against the Lakers as a possible Jazz finale. With an opt-out clause in his contract, he could join a total of nine current Utah players as a free agent this offseason.
Healing and helping his team were on his mind in L.A., not his future in Utah.
"I don't really know anything yet," Okur said. "I just want to go out there and play hard and try to help my team to try to win the ballgame.
"I don't know yet about next year."
There's a good reason why Okur looked rustier than most bolts on the tractors at his coach's Illinois farm when he finally joined the first- round series in progress after missing four games.
It's because, Jerry Sloan pointed out, the 6-11 big man simply hadn't played in awhile. Okur missed 1-1/2 weeks of games and practice until rejoining the team Friday for light workouts. He started Game 4 but was mostly ineffective, going scoreless in 13 minutes.
"Obviously," Sloan said, "things didn't work out the way we'd like for them to."
But Sloan didn't act terribly surprised.
"Well, he hadn't played (in a week). A lot of guys look that way," the Jazz coach said Monday morning. "We had some guys miss 40 games look like they hadn't played in 40 games. That's the nature of injuries.
You've got to work around that."
Which is precisely what Okur tried to do.
BREAK TIME: Hoping to help recharge his players' batteries was the main reason Sloan didn't hold practice Sunday.
"I think it was a good time to give them a day off," Sloan said. "We had about eight or 10 days where they hadn't had a day off and I thought it was an opportune time for 'em to take off and re-gather themselves and get ready to play again."
The idea, he said, came from the older player in the Hall-of-Fame coach.
"I would have wanted a day off if I was a player. That's basically one of the reasons I gave it to them," Sloan added. "If you you're mentally trying to stay involved in the game, I think it's good for you to refresh yourself and then come back and go at it again."
ADIOS IN APRIL: The Jazz aren't exactly strangers to being eliminated from the first round, but early April exits aren't all that common in Utah. Coming into this series, the Jazz had only been ousted before May three times in 22 playoff appearances. Before 2009, Utah had parted from the postseason after just one round nine times — the most recent being in 2003 before Utah's three-year playoff drought.
NICE TIE: Sloan drew a large laugh from a big pool of reporters during a pregame interview Monday over his response to a Los Angeles reporter who asked about the significance of the light purple tie he wore.
Perhaps an homage to the old Jazz colors? A nice tribute to the hometown purple-and-gold Lakers? Not exactly.
"I got it," Sloan deadpanned, "at a garage sale."
WHERE'S WALTON?: L.A. reserve Luke Walton, who sparked the Lakers' momentum-changing Game 4 20-2 second-quarter spurt with a 3-pointer, missed Game 5 after an MRI revealed he suffered a partial tear of the deltoid ligament.
The team is listing Walton, who sprained his left ankle in the Lakers' win in Utah, as "out indefinitely" and said he'll be re-evaluated in about a week.
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