Utah Jazz: Team prepares for possible absence of Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — An hour after being helped off the court with back spasms, Al Jefferson predicted he wouldn’t miss any action.
And he said that despite the fact he had to have help putting on his shoes and couldn’t move without wincing in pain.
“I don't miss games,” Big Al said. “I'll be ready to play Friday (unless) I just can't walk.”
Considering Derrick Favors’ health situation, that could leave the Jazz in a tough predicament against the Toronto Raptors.
Jefferson received treatment on Thursday at the practice facility but left for a doctor’s appointment before the team worked out.
“He’s walking upright,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, “so it looks like he’s feeling better.”
Favors is participating with the team again, but he isn’t fully back after plantar fasciitis in his right arch has kept him out of the past three games.
Both Jefferson and Favors are game-time decisions for this rematch with the Raptors, whom the Jazz outlasted in triple overtime in Toronto last month.
“It would be interesting,” Corbin said. “But, you know, we’ve felt good and we still feel good with the bigs that we have.”
Absences would create more opportunities for guys like Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans and even Paul Millsap. Corbin also said he might use Marvin Williams at power forward if need be.
“We have a plan in mind,” the Jazz coach said, “but hopefully it doesn’t get to that point.”
“They’re two big pieces to our team,” Millsap said of Big Al and Favors. “For them to miss, it’d be tough on our team, but we’ve still got to find a way to pull it together to win a game.”
Williams has played power forward in limited amounts this season, and he wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again if it’s necessary.
“We have 24 hours, a little more, so I don’t want to think about it until I have to think about (playing without Jefferson and Favors),” Williams said at Thursday’s practice. “I don’t think anybody wants to, but obviously that’s the reality of this business. Sometimes your key guys go down. When guys go down we have enough guys to really move in to step up.”
LONG STORY: Asked to reminisce about the Jazz’s extra-long bout against Toronto, only one thing came to Millsap’s mind regarding Utah’s 140-133 victory.
“It was a long night a really long night,” he said. “That’s all I can remember about it.”
Jefferson wasn’t available for comment Thursday, but here’s guessing he remembers the really long shot he made from 3-point land at the end of regulation to force the first overtime.
Millsap scored 34 points and also hit three from long, really long, range in that Nov. 12 victory.
VINDICATION?: Jefferson was called for a foul against Glen Davis toward the end of the first half Wednesday. While protesting the call, Big Al ended up being slapped with a technical foul.
A few minutes later, Jefferson said he received an apology from an unlikely source.
“It was a bad call,” he said. ”The referee came back in at the halftime and said he was sorry.”
That made him feel a bit vindicated, but didn’t change the situation.
“They don't take the tech away,” he said.
Jefferson added with a laugh, “I think Mo Williams is the reason I got the tech because he was trying to hold me back when I really was just asking what I did. I wasn't being disrespectful, so I'm going to make him (Williams) pay half of it.”
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