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Utah Jazz notebook: Carlos Boozer is targeting Saturday return

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 12:07 p.m. MDT

Carlos Boozer (Jazz) laughs from the bench against Portland at the EnergySolutions Arena. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Carlos Boozer (Jazz) laughs from the bench against Portland at the EnergySolutions Arena. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — He said he felt "a little too tight, a little too sore" to play in Wednesday's win over Portland.

But Carlos Boozer, injured one week earlier at Portland, continues to eye Saturday's home game against Denver for a return from his moderately strained and slightly torn right calf muscle injury. "I'm feeling good. Feeling good," the Jazz's usual starting power forward said Wednesday. "I'm working out, getting better.

"There's still a little tightness in it," Boozer added, "but it's gotten a lot stronger in the last couple days. It's still on course."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, meanwhile, seems to have grown increasingly tired of queries about whether backup and replacement-starter Paul Millsap will stay in the opening lineup after Boozer returns. "The next question people have is 'Are you going to replace Boozer with Millsap?' Well," Sloan said Wednesday, "I think Paul's a better player coming off the bench. Because he's immediate energy. He has great energy to come off of there, and we'll see how that works out — or if we do something else.

"He needs to play more. There's no question about that. But right now, we're trying to win games — not make it a 'he said,' or 'she said,' or whatever the case may be. Just play, and try to be as good as you can be."

Sloan, though, did acknowledge he's contemplated multiple possibilities for using Millsap more — even including starting him alongside a healthy Boozer.

"I consider a lot of things," he said. "I mean, that; whatever, you know? Play him at three (small forward). Yeah, I've considered all those things.

"I don't bat 100 percent with it," Sloan added. "I just go with what we feel like — or what I hear somebody ask me a question about it. That's more important."

Millsap scored 12 and had nine rebounds against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday, giving him an average of 23 points and 10.7 boards in three starts while Boozer's been sidelined.

"I felt like I needed to step my game up while he's out," Millsap said. "I've been working on my jump shot and working on getting a feel for the game, and it's working out for me, and I'm gonna continue to try to be aggressive."

Jazz point guard Deron Williams, for one, has been happy to see the expanded version of Millsap's game.

"I knew he could do that," Williams said. "I saw that this summer — just given the chance, given the time. You know, I've been a fan of Paul Millsap all along. I've always been one of his supporters, and he's just getting a chance to show what he can do right now while Boozer's out."

FORMER CHAMP: He didn't defend his Skills Challenge championship last year because he needed the rest during NBA All-Star Weekend, but All-Star Williams said Wednesday he's happy to have a chance to put up his course-record time against a field that includes 2009 champ Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.

"It will be a good chance to try to get the title back," said Williams. "Those things are always fun to be a part of."

PRICE'S NIGHT: Jazz backup point Ronnie Price gets inducted into the Utah Valley University Hall of Fame tonight, when the Wolverines play Texas-Pan American.

Price's family members have flown in from the Houston area for the occasion.

"It took for something like this to happen for them to fly up here," he joked.

Price called it "crazy" for an undrafted player like him to make it from Utah Valley to the NBA, and said he's "honored" he'll be recognized tonight at the Orem school.

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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