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Utah Jazz notebook: Players aim to keep Denver team aggravated

Published: Thursday, April 22 2010 12:53 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Bug the Nuggets.

That's their best hope, the Jazz seem to figure, for extending the success they enjoyed in Monday's Game 2 win to the rest of their best-of-seven first-round NBA playoff series with Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

" 'Melo, K-Mart (Kenyon Martin) — those guys are emotionally into the game, you know?" point guard Deron Williams said Wednesday, when the Jazz returned to practice after taking Tuesday off. "So ... we want to try to get under their skin, keep them aggravated."

"We want to try to bother them — especially Carmelo," power forward Carlos Boozer added.

"Obviously the whole team, but the big key for them is 'Melo. You know, (point guard) Chauncey (Billups) gets them going, but 'Melo is their engine."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, however, wasn't buying when it was suggested Anthony conceded Utah got into his head in Game 2.

"Don't buy any of that," Sloan said. "That's like Michael Jordan being sick."

On Wednesday, the Jazz did generally laud their effort Monday in Denver, though, and they hope it's there again when the series between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, tied at 1-1, resumes with Game 3 on Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

"It was just a good game for us, a good team victory, where everybody was involved," Williams said. "Everybody was into the game, from the first guy on down."

"There's no question it has to lift us up a little bit," Sloan added, "to make us believe we can play with them."

OKUR RECOVERING: Forward Andrei Kirilenko said teammate — and neighbor — Mehmet Okur was "hanging" after undergoing surgery to repair the Achilles' tendon that the Jazz's starting center ruptured in Saturday night's Game 1.

"He's OK," Kirilenko said. "We all understand injuries happen. But you can really see when guys are unhappy with those kinds of injuries. Sprained ankles, OK; a week or two weeks, you're gonna be back. But those Achilles — it's a very bad injury.

"It's always tough," he added, "when you know you're gonna miss, like, half a year, at least. But, I mean, what you can do? Get some new iPads?"

Jazz CEO Greg Miller visited Okur in his home shortly after the surgery and tweeted that "his spirits are good in spite of the long road ahead."

Okur is expected to be out at least four to six months following surgery performed by University of Utah Department of Orthopaedics chairman Dr. Charles Saltzman.

"Dr. Saltzman said he felt he got an excellent result," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Wednesday, "so we'll just wait and see how it goes."

BRIGHT SIDE: Kirilenko jokingly sought out the bright side of Okur's injury.

"I feel very, very sorry for Memo," he said. "It's pretty good for the Russian National Team, though."

Kirilenko's Russian team is scheduled to face Okur's native Turkey — presumably without Okur — on Aug. 29 in preliminary-round play at the upcoming FIBA World Championships.

But seriously, Kirilenko added, "He's my good friend, close friend, and I feel very badly."

FESENKO WANTED? According a translated Internet report this week, a Spanish League/Euroleague team — Caja Laboral, formerly called Tau Ceramica — has started looking elsewhere "after being rejected by Kyrylo Fesenko."

The same report on TuBasket.com, an international basketball website, said the Jazz backup center from Ukraine previously "had already received three offers from as many franchises," including one from Tau in 2008.

"I love rumors like that," a skeptical Fesenko said. "It reminds of (one about Greek League team) Panathinaikos last year. I didn't even know about that."

So is the latest report true?

"I just learned it from you," he said Wednesday.

Asked if his focus in the offseason will be solely on returning to the NBA, Fesenko — a key figure for the Jazz since they lost Okur, and a restricted free agent this summer — narrowed things even further.

"My whole focus is Game 3 Friday," he said. "I'm not even trying to think about summer.

"Let's keep it simple. Let's win the series, win the next series, win the championship, and then we will talk about it."

HE SAID IT: Boozer, on the Jazz coaching staff: "Our coaches have seen everything in basketball life. They've been around since, I don't even know — when did Christopher Columbus get here? Anyway, they've been around forever, so they've seen things, and whatever they see they're gonna tell us, too."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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