CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the NBA, one player's injury can be another's opportunity.
That's turning out to be the case for Kevin Murphy.
The rookie shooting guard will rejoin the Utah Jazz in time for tonight's game against the Charlotte Bobcats after spending the past month and a half on a D-League assignment with the Reno Bighorns.
Murphy's call-up became necessary after the team learned that starting small forward Marvin Williams will be out for at least the next three games because of ongoing issues with his inflamed right knee.
Williams was treated by Jazz team orthopedist Dr. Lyle Mason on Tuesday. The forward traveled with the team for this three-game road trip, but it was decided he won't play to see how his knee responds.
Williams' injury, which forced him out of one game last weekend, left the Jazz with only 11 healthy players available. Utah was already without point guard Mo Williams out due to his thumb surgery, while disgruntled shooting guard Raja Bell remains in limbo in Miami.
Murphy, the Jazz's second-round pick last June, hasn't been with the NBA team since being sent down to the D-League on Nov. 26. He averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14 games with the Bighorns.
Getting back to the Jazz comes at a great time, considering the team plays in his hometown of Atlanta on Friday.
On the other hand, it's bad timing for Marvin Williams. He's been looking forward to his first game in Atlanta, where he spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career before being traded from the Hawks to the Jazz this past offseason.
Utah thugs?: With all due respect to Rick Carlisle, Jazz veteran Earl Watson strongly disagrees with the Dallas coach's accusation that Utah "thugged it up" during crunch time in Monday's 100-94 win.
"I think he's listening to too much rap music. I don't think that unit is a thug-it-up unit," Watson said at Tuesday's practice. "I think they (Mavs) were a physical team first. I think we had a lot of players hit the ground hard."
Watson said Chris Kaman might've had a dirty play when he pushed on Al Jefferson's head during an under-the-basket scrum, resulting in a flagrant foul. Other than that, though, Watson thought the physical play was above the fray.
Watson pointed out that he's known Carlisle for a long time.
"I think," he added, "he's just trying to motivate his team to play tougher."
Memo visit: Reporters were pleasantly surprised to see retired basketball player Mehmet Okur outside the ESA media room after Monday's shootaround. The former Jazz center didn't clarify what his visit was for — but, yes, it was just a coincidence that the 6-foot-11 sharpshooter was in the arena on the day NBA teams were allowed to sign players to 10-day contracts.
In a Twitter conversation, Okur wrote that he was in Utah to see his friends and "that's about it." While flying into Salt Lake City, he took a photo from the plane announcing his arrival.
Okur, who played for Utah from 2004-11 before being traded to the Nets, did not attend the Jazz-Dallas game.
"But," he added, "I'm gonna come (and see) Jazz games in future."
Told that Jazzland will be thrilled to see him in person again, the amicable fan favorite responded: "I'm looking forward to it. Big time."
Hard play: Days after being smashed and stitched up in Phoenix, Paul Millsap was asked if he ever wonders why it seems he's so often on the receiving end of hammerings on the hardwood.
Millsap has a bandage on his ear, but no halo. Knowing he hands out his own form of physical punishment during games, he wasn't looking for sympathy.
"I'm not going to play the role of victim," he said. "It happens, especially when you go out there and you try to put everything into it. Things like that are going to occur."
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