Utah Jazz notes: In Houston, Price counting on friendly fans

Published: Friday, April 18 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Ronnie Price's grandmother gave birth to 21 children and raised several foster kids, too.
"She just loves kids," said Price, who has big families on both his father's and his mother's sides, most of them growing up within a few blocks of each other in Hitchcock, Texas, just down the interstate from Friendswood, the town the backup Utah Jazz point guard calls home.
Both cities are just a ways south of Houston, and Price grew up a Rockets fan, but his big family should provide some Jazz-friendly folk as Utah and Houston square off in the Toyota Center Saturday and Monday nights in the first two of the best-of-seven NBA first-round playoff series.
Price said he didn't know how many family members will be in attendance, "I don't even know how many I have," he said. "I'm pretty sure a lot of people will buy their own tickets, but if I need to get some, I wouldn't have a problem doing it. It will be fun to see them."
The third-year player has only played in Houston in front of his family once, in January when the Jazz won there. "It will be a good chance to play in front of my family. They haven't had a chance to watch me play in person a lot this year, so I'm pretty excited about that," he said. In two years with Sacramento, he didn't get into any games in Houston.
He's been playing just under 10 minutes a game as Deron Williams' backup, and despite getting 25 minutes Wednesday because Williams didn't play in the second half due to a tailbone bruised last Saturday against Denver, Price doesn't anticipate seeing more minutes.
"Deron's fine. He'll be all right," Price said Thursday.
Jazz trainer Gary Briggs said the same through a team spokesman, and Williams is not listed as "probable"or "day-to-day"or any such iffy thing. He's expected to play.
"It's sore. It's sore. Get some more treatment,"was all Williams said Thursday.
"I think he's fine,"said Price. "I don't really know the details of his injury or the details of what was wrong, but he seemed really OK today, and I know Deron is a competitor, and he's not going to miss any games, especially in the playoffs. He's not going to miss this game."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan also expects Williams to play. "I'm sure he'll probably be ready to play. He has a chance to kind of get some of the soreness out (with Thursday and Friday between games), but if not, we have to play anyway."
Price said his first thought after Utah lost badly at San Antonio Wednesday to conclude the regular season and lose homecourt advantage for the first playoff round was, "That we've got to get ready to play. "
Getting to go home to Houston and play, "That was probably my second thought. But my first thought was like, well, we don't have homecourt advantage, so we've got to get ready to play these first two games on the road against a team that is scary."

OKUR OK: Jazz center Mehmet Okur will not be suspended for his Flagrant 1 foul Wednesday night against San Antonio's Fabricio Oberto. An NBA spokesman said by e-mail Thursday that the foul will remain a Flagrant 1, and no further league action will be taken.
In the third quarter, Oberto beat Okur to a long rebound in the corner, and, from behind, Okur hit Oberto in the face with a roundhouse-kind of swipe as Oberto dribbled the ball. Oberto fell to the floor clutching his face.
"I didn't do it on purpose," said Okur, who as of midday Thursday had not been called by the league. "He had a good position on the rebound, and I was out of balance. He was in front of me. Accidentally I hit his face." Okur added, "I was going to hit the ball, but I was kind of out of balance, so I didn't see the ball. I accidentally hit his face. I don't even see him, his face right down there. I was going to hit the ball and make my teammates get the ball. I didn't do anything on purpose."
PRICE TAG: Price logged a total of nine playoff minutes over four games as a rookie with the Sacramento Kings two years ago. But he has a high opinion of this Jazz team in the 2008 playoffs.
"I think we're more of a championship-caliber team than any other team in the West," Price said, "because we just have a full roster, everyone's healthy, and I think the Rockets not having Yao Ming is a big situation for them that they have to deal with. Yao is a go-to guy that they go to down toward the end of the game. Without Yao, their post presence is not as strong."
Price, who played collegiately at Utah Valley, has enjoyed his first season with Utah. "This whole season has been new to me because I went from one style of a team (Sacramento) to another style, and I'll tell you what, I'll pick this style any day of the week.
"I love playing for this team, I love playing for this coaching staff and this organization. This road through this regular season has been fun, and I wouldn't change it for anything," said Price. "I'm just looking forward to the playoffs now and seeing the playoff atmosphere and the way guys handle themselves in the playoffs."

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