Jazz forward Howard's season may not be finished after all

Published: Sunday, April 22 2012 11:20 p.m. MDT

Jazz's Josh Howard talks to the media about news of a chip in his femoral cartilage in his left knee prior to game time.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Josh Howard's season-ending knee surgery might not have been so season-ending, after all.

The small forward has worked his way back from a knee scope a month ago and could return to action as soon as Tuesday against Phoenix.

"I'm going to try to (play)," Howard said following the Jazz's overtime win over Orlando.

That, however, is not a sure thing.

The Jazz didn't practice Sunday, and he has not yet participated in contact drills or actually scrimmaged to test his surgically repaired knee in live game-like action.

Howard also has to be given the doctor's thumbs up to proceed — but first in practice.

"It's up to the coaching staff and training staff," Howard said. "I'm not going to try to force an issue."

Howard obviously wants to help his playoff-pushing team, but he also has a personal goal of finishing the season in a uniform instead of sidelined as has been the case due to injuries the past two seasons.

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin has said he'd love to have the option of playing both Howard and Raja Bell, who's also nearly ready to return. But the coach admitted it'd be a challenge trying to fit them into the mix.

Corbin said he'd want to work them in to "hopefully enhance the flow and not disrupt." He also pointed out that Howard has not had contact play yet.

Howard hasn't played since March 18 when he logged 27 minutes in the Jazz's 103-99 road win against the Lakers. He had started the previous 15 games.

In 41 games with the Jazz, the 6-7 Howard has averaged 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 23.4 minutes.

Howard underwent surgery on March 22 in New York City to clean up a chip in the lateral femoral cartilage of his left knee.

The Jazz have still not provided timetables for their other injured players, C.J. Miles (calf) and Earl Watson (knee surgery).

PAINFUL MEMORY: When somebody mentioned Paul Millsap's cut lip before Saturday's game, the Jazz power forward said it happened a few games previous but was slow to heal.

"That's part of it," Millsap said.

Asked if it was Tony Allen, whose elbow sent DeMarre Carroll's tooth to the back of his mouth, Millsap admitted it wasn't the hard-nosed Memphis player.

"It was somebody else," he said, not wanting to divulge who. "I'll have to keep that name in my head."

MILESTONE: Jamaal Tinsely didn't just lead the Jazz in assists during Saturday's 117-107 OT win over Orlando. With nine dishes, Tinsley also surpassed the 3,000 mark for assists in his nine-year career.

Tinsley, who now has 3,008 assists, had his best overall passing year as a rookie in 2001-02 when he averaged 8.1 apg.

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody Blog: Jazzland.blogs.deseretnews.com

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