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Utah Jazz notebook: Injury bug has bitten hard

Published: Saturday, April 2 2011 11:44 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Tyrone Corbin isn't one to make excuses, but the injury bug that has hit his team since he became coach is like nothing he has seen since joining the league as a player 25 years ago.

The Jazz have been beset with injuries all season, but particularly since Corbin took over as coach in February. Currently, three starters are out and only 10 players are available to play tonight, one of which is Kyle Weaver, who joined the team four days ago from the D-League.

"We've had injuries with different guys at different times, but not so many guys at the same time," Corbin said. "It's been tough, you can't really get a real flow with the guys on the floor. But injuries you can't control."

So far this year, Jazz players have missed 142 games due to injury or illness and the Jazz have used 17 different starting lineups, including Friday when Kyrylo Fesenko made his first start of the year.

As for tonight's game in Sacramento, Andrei Kirilenko (knee), Raja Bell (foot), Ronnie Price (calf) are definitely out and Devin Harris (hamstring) is likely out. Of course Mehmet Okur is out for the year with his back problems.

"We'll see how many guys we get healthy and see what the matchups are and what kind of rotation gives us the best chance," Corbin said. "Hopefully we'll have some bodies back on the floor and we'll have to make adjustments according to the opponents."

NO REGRETS: For Gordon Hayward, it has been a trying rookie season with inconsistent playing time and more losing than he's used to.

Still, he reiterated what he's said all season about his decision to turn pro after his sophomore season at Butler, even in light of his former team's run to the Final Four.

"I'm excited for those guys and proud of where I come from, but I'm blessed to be here and a hundred percent happy with my decision," he said Saturday before leaving for Sacramento.

He was disappointed that he couldn't watch Butler's eventual semifinal win over VCU on Saturday night because his team's flight to Sacramento was during that time. He hoped to get to California in time to see the end of the game.

Hayward said he texts his former teammates on a regular basis, but doesn't know if he would have made any difference for the team this year.

"If I'd gone back, it may have never happened," he said. "Some of those guys wouldn't have had room to develop. You never know."

BIG TEDDY BEAR:Kyrylo Fesenko made his first start of the season Friday against the Lakers and had a memorable game in many respects.

Besides playing tough defense on Andrew Bynum, he also had a couple of hard fouls on Laker star Kobe Bryant, one of which resulted in a technical foul.

"When you're running full speed and trying to dunk on a 7-1 guy, you're taking chances, right? I was just trying to keep him from scoring and that's it," Fesenko said. "I wasn't trying to be rude or anything. It's basketball."

When told that Bryant called him a "big teddy bear" after the game, Fesenko smiled and said, "Oh that's so sweet."

LEAVING SACRAMENTO: The Jazz's Corbin might be more nostalgic than most about tonight's game in Sacramento amid the rumors that the team is likely leaving the city after this season.

Corbin played for Sacramento twice — in 1995-96 under Garry St. Jean and again in 1999-2000 under Rick Adelman.

"It's a tremendous community and they've done a great job of supporting the franchise there," he said. "The people have always been excited to have NBA games there and all my years of playing, and they were always tremendous about supporting the team. I don't know the economics of the move or the potential of the move, but it would be a shot to the city for them to leave."

EMAIL: sor@desnews.com

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