PHILADELPHIA — It was only after they boarded a bus headed for morning shootaround Friday that the Jazz learned starting point guard Deron Williams had returned to Utah.
By night's end, a 112-90 win at Philadelphia in the bag with rookie point Eric Maynor starting, everyone with the Jazz knew why Williams was gone.
Yet they still weren't sure when he'd be back, or if he'd make it to Cleveland in time for tonight's game there.
According to a statement from Williams, released shortly after Friday's game: "I would like to thank (Jazz owner) Mrs.
(Gail) Miller, Greg Miller and Coach (Jerry) Sloan for allowing me to return to Utah to be with my wife and children.
"(Thursday), one of my daughters underwent a procedure in the hospital to address some health concerns. There are still unanswered questions and the doctors have been running more in-depth tests throughout (Friday).
"My daughter's health is very important to my wife and I and it is important I remain in Salt Lake City as we monitor the situation. We both appreciate the support of the fans, the Jazz organization and my teammates. I will return to the court as soon as possible."
ROOKIE WATCH: With first-round draft choice Maynor joined by undrafted Wesley Matthews in the Jazz's opening lineup Friday, the two became the first rookies in the same starting lineup since Williams and Andre Owens in a Nov. 11, 2005, loss to Sacramento.
"You've got to give it up to the two rookies," forward Carlos Boozer said after Matthews finished with 16 points and Maynor his first NBA double-double.
Maynor — whose last game at Wachovia Center here was an NCAA Tournament loss to UCLA — felt like he was back at Virginia Commonwealth.
"I played 36 minutes, had a double-double," he said. "I told somebody, it felt like college again. Just out there playing, and having the ball in my hands a lot, contributing to a win.
"My team had confidence in me," he added.
"When that happens, the sky's the limit."
DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Andrei Kirilenko didn't start Friday because he didn't want all three of his players who can get the Jazz into their offense — Maynor, Kirilenko and starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer — opening on the floor at the same time.
He opted for Kirilenko over Brewer for the role only because Kirilenko, who didn't start last season, is more accustomed to coming off the bench.
But Brewer, not Kirilenko, mostly handled the point when Maynor was out.
KISS OF DEATH: One possible reason Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Sloan doesn't mind that he's never won official NBA Coach of the Year honors was amplified Thursday, when 2008 award New Orleans Hornets coach Byron Scott was fired.
The 2006 winner, Avery Johnson, was fired in 2008, less than two years after taking the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals, and the 2007 award recipient, Sam Mitchell, was fired by Toronto early in his second season after winning.
"In this business," Sloan said Friday, "you don't want to be the Coach of the Year."
MILESTONE: With a third-quarter 3-pointer, center Mehmet Okur moved into a tie with current part-time shooting coach Jeff Hornacek for fourth place on the Jazz's all-time treys made list with 439.
Next on the list: Darrell Griffith (530).
John Stockton (845) leads, followed by Bryon Russell (540).
MISC.: Injured Jazz forward Matt Harpring, at home in Atlanta awaiting retirement due to chronic knee and ankle injuries, did studio work Friday for NBA TV, including a postgame interview with Maynor, a teammate he's never met. ... With Harpring, Williams, Ronnie Price (sprained big toe), C.J. Miles (thumb surgery) and Kyle Korver (knee surgery) all out, the Jazz had just nine healthy players Friday. All but Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko played at least 29 minutes. ... Matthews' first NBA start came against one of the ex-teams of his father, Wes Matthews. ... With usual Jazz TV play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack calling today's Ole Miss-Tennessee college football game for CBS, Steve Brown filled in Friday and will again Saturday.
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