SALT LAKE CITY — Friday morning, Jazz center Al Jefferson was optimistic he'd be able to play hours later against Toronto despite his back spasms.
"I could run 10 miles," Big Al said while walking to his car en route to a doctor's appointment. He paused and jokingly added, "with you on my back."
For the record, neither of those events happened.
Jefferson didn't play in the Jazz's 131-99 victory over the Raptors, either.
"I could've went and played, but I would've been probably 75-80 percent and then hurting my teammates out there," Jefferson said. "It was just best for me to just sit out and let it rest."
Jefferson plans on getting "some good treatment" today and then playing Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
"Most definitely Sunday," Jefferson said. "Actually, it feels a lot better now than it did before the game, so it's getting better quickly."
The 6-10 center, after missing his first game this season, was thrilled with the way his replacement du jour, Enes Kanter, played in his absence. The second-year big man, whom he fondly calls "Big Turkey," had 18 points and eight rebounds in his first career start.
"I told him that he's got to step up for me tonight, and he went out there and played big," Jefferson said. "He made me proud."
Jefferson especially liked how Kanter snatched four offensive boards. In fact, he only had one critique of his young fill-in.
"I've still got to get him to stop ball-faking when he don't have to," Jefferson said, laughing. "But we're going to work on it."
The Jazz were also without backup big Derrick Favors, but Jefferson gained confidence from watching Kanter tear it up while they were out.
Added Jefferson: "He made me feel like if I do have a little injury, I can sit out and he'll step up and play well for me."
NO MAILMAN-LIKE RANT FOR MILLSAP: Unlike Karl Malone, Paul Millsap hadn't heard of the hubbub over the Louisiana Tech football dilemma until it was brought to his attention.
Despite going 9-3, the Bulldogs won't be playing in a bowl game after essentially turning down an invitation to the Independence Bowl in hopes of being invited elsewhere.
"Wow," replied Millsap, who played hoops for Louisiana Tech in college like Malone. "That's tough."
Speaking of tough, that's how Malone treated his old school for the pigskin predicament. The Mailman tweeted up a storm Sunday, saying he was "heartbroken and embarrassed" by his university's bowl blunder.
"Now it's time to get former athletes to run our program," Malone tweeted. "I'm 6-9 and not hard to find."
Malone also wrote that the school should hire former Tech athletes "to get the pride back" and demanded an explanation about the bowl-less postseason.
Though disappointed by the news, Millsap's reaction was far less bitter.
"It's a tough situation. I wouldn't go that far and say that (what Malone did), but it is bad on the players," Millsap said. "They worked so hard all season and to not be able to play in a bowl game, that's tough."
Millsap chuckled when told Malone had lobbied to become athletic director. His assessment of how the Hall of Famer would do in that capacity?
"I don't know," Millsap said, grinning. "I don't know his qualifications as an athletic director, but he may be able to do something. Who knows?"
FAVORS SITS: Favors missed his fourth game in a row due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He was a game-time decision, but ended up sitting another one out.
Favors said his arch is "feeling good" after Thursday's light practice and Friday's shootaround. He doesn't want to push it, though.
"It just hurts when I push off, when I jump," the 6-10 forward said. "It takes a lot of explosiveness out of my game."1 comment on this story
Favors downplayed concerns about the injury lingering.
"As long as I take care of it, (get) treatment, do the right things," he said, "I'm not too concerned about it."