Utah Jazz update: Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors will start against Bobcats
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Charlotte Bobcats only have 13 wins and are the worst team in the NBA.
But things will be interesting tonight at EnergySolutions Arena for the Utah Jazz.
Because of injuries, the Jazz (31-27) only have 11 players available for action when they host the Bobcats (13-44) in this 7 p.m. contest.
Neither power forward Paul Millsap nor leading scorer Al Jefferson will play because of their sprained left ankles.
Backup forward DeMarre Carroll will play after an MRI revealed that his left knee has a bone bruise and patellar tendinitis. He was listed as a game-time decision.
This will be the first time in their three seasons together in Utah that Millsap and Jefferson both missed a game on the same night.
Point guard Mo Williams, meanwhile, remains out while rehabbing his surgically repaired right thumb.
"It's tough," Millsap said. "But we have to trust each other and be confident in each other, that the other guys can get it done if we can't go. That's going to the main thing, just trusting in them and hoping they trust in themselves."
Millsap missed his first game of the season Wednesday when the Jazz lost their second straight home game, falling 102-91 to the Atlanta Hawks. Near the end of that defeat, Big Al rolled his ankle while stepping on Favors' foot.
Jefferson has played in all but one game this season — Utah's 131-99 rout of Toronto on Dec. 7.
That early season game was Kanter's only career start, but the second-year big man is eagerly anticipating being in the first five against the Bobcats.
"I'm just going to try to do my best," Kanter said.
Millsap said he believes the short-handed Jazz can snap their three-game losing streak regardless of who's in uniform.
"I'm pretty confident they'll get out there and do their job," he said, "and do what they're supposed to do and can help win the game."
Foye believes so as well.
"They're ready. They work hard every day in practice. They understand what they need to do to help us win, so they're ready," the starting shooting guard said of Kanter and Favors. "I have nothing but 120 percent confidence in what they are going to come out and give us tonight."
Speaking of Foye, he was still wearing the bracelet from the hospital's maternity ward, which allows him to spend time with his wife and newborn daughter.
Both Foye and Millsap welcomed baby girls into their families on Thursday.
Coincidentally, they both named their daughters similarly — Pilar Foye and Paular Millsap.
"Same day, same name. It's crazy. What a coincidence, really," Millsap said, laughing.
Foye's baby came earlier in the day than Millsap's.
"He one-upped me on that one," Millsap said, smiling.
As for less important things, Millsap said his ankle is "definitely better" and improving every day. He was able to shoot and run straight lines this morning, but he still hasn’t tested his lateral mobility.
"(It's) getting a little stronger every day, but I still have to be cautious about it, be smart about it," he said." I'll come back out and try again (tonight), see how it feels."
Carroll said it was "positive" that his injury isn't worse. Expect his usual "Junkyard Dog" effort and mentality.
"That's the way I play," he said. "Sometimes people say it's bad, but I only know how to play one speed, and that's 110 percent. If I step on the court, I'm going to play 110 percent."
The Jazz were so shorthanded at practice Thursday, 6-8 shooting guard Gordon Hayward was pulled into center duty for a bit. He was pitted against Kanter.
"I was hedging some screens, calling out picks and stuff, setting some monster screens, too," Hayward said. "You never know."
With Jefferson and Millsap out, the Jazz also have forward Jeremy Evans waiting in the wings. Small forward Marvin Williams could also slide into the power forward position if needed.
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