DENVER — Getting rest, taking medication and wearing a wrist brace for three consecutive days helped Deron Williams improve enough to play again Friday after missing four games.
"I hate being on the sideline," Williams said after the Jazz's morning shootaround at Pepsi Center. "I don't like sitting out games, practice, so I'm just glad to be back there."
Williams pointed out that two weekend games — at Denver and tonight at home vs. Oklahoma City — are big ones for the Jazz, who hope to claw back into the Northwest Division race.
But it's the competitor in Williams, not the competition, that pushed him to return two days after he said his wrist hurt even when shooting from 12 feet away and lacked follow-through shooting mobility.
"If I can play, I'm going to play no matter who it's against," Williams said. "I want to play basketball. It's been over a week, but it felt like a month. I just want to be back on the court."
D-Will shed his bulkier brace and sported a wrist wrap for Friday's game.
Asked if he would have restrictions on his play, Williams curtly responded: "Nah. If I did, I wouldn't let you know."
Williams hit his first jumper early in the first quarter and nailed two free throws and a 3-pointer in the first half, showing that he can either shoot through pain or at least that his injury didn't affect his performance.
ALL-STAR ADDITIONS?: Minnesota's Kevin Love will join Williams on the Western Conference All-Star team. NBA commissioner David Stern named the league's leading rebounder a substitute reserve for the injured Yao Ming on Friday.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Steve Nash or Lamar Odom — guys considered to have been snubbed — might've made it if it were up to some participants in Friday's Utah-Denver game.
"I think it should be a 15-man roster," Denver coach George Karl said. "I've said that for numerous years."
Karl didn't think it'd be too tough to spread out the minutes, although Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said that might be one downfall to an expanded roster.
"Well, they've got 30 teams, maybe put 30 team players out there — 15 on a team," Sloan suggested. "How much is a coach going to be able to play them? I don't know what's fair."
Williams likes the idea, as does the Jazz's Paul Millsap, who added: "It should be. It makes sense to have a 15-man roster on the All-Star team."
The power forward, who gained All-Star support after his name was omitted from this year's ballot, said players should just use a snub as motivation to get better the next season.
Said Millsap: "Every year there's going to be somebody that deserves to be there but sits out."
ALL-STAR PRIORITIES: Williams is certainly happy to participate in the NBA All-Star Game for the second straight year. But, considering his team had lost eight of 10 before Friday, that doesn't top his list of concerns.
"It's a great honor, but it doesn't make or break me. I wouldn't have been affected either way. I made it once, that's good enough for me," Williams said. "I just want to start winning again. Get some wins in the W column."
Wins with the Jazz, that is — not the Western Conference stars.
PLAYING FAVORITES: Teams coached by Sloan and Karl have had some great battles over the years, something the Nuggets' coach and former Seattle bench boss has enjoyed.
"I probably think it's my favorite match-up in my history of coaching," Karl said of facing the Jazz.
"(John) Stockton, (Jeff) Hornacek. They had so many different personalities with Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey — different type of players," Karl added. "(Sloan) gets them to play in a great way. It's a blue-collar game. It's an angry game. It's a competitive game."
Sloan's response to hearing Karl likes playing his teams: "We're easy to coach against. We are. I'd want to play us, too."
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