Utah Jazz's Okur OK after sustaining eye injury

Published: Saturday, March 21 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jazz trainer attends to center Mehmet Okur. (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press) Jazz trainer attends to center Mehmet Okur. (Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The area under his right eye was discolored, and it was difficult to open his eyelid.

It hurt so much, Mehmet Okur felt like he got hit with a fist — and not just poked.

"It could have been worse," the Jazz center said after Friday night's win at Oklahoma City. "I'm glad it was just a punch, and I'm gonna be okay, hopefully."

"Stuff like that happens," he added. "It's part of the game."

Okur was jabbed during second-quarter play by Thunder guard Chucky Atkins, who was going for the ball but instead caught the big Turk's right eye. Okur immediately fell to the floor and was done playing for the night.

Okur was examined by an Oklahoma City team doctor, and a Jazz spokesperson said he sustained "no major damage."

"I just wanted to sit on the floor, lay down, because I couldn't see anything," Okur said.

"I'm glad it's not bad as Amar'e had," he added, referring to the recent surgery that Phoenix Suns big man Amar'e Stoudemire needed to repair a partially torn retina. "The first thing that went through my mind was, 'Amar'e had same thing,' so I'm glad."

Okur was shooting 6-for-8 from the field and had 12 points when he had to leave the game.

He's expected to be available when the Jazz play next, Tuesday night at home against Houston.

"Memo was hot," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who scored 24 and took over after it was evident Okur would not return.

"He came out shooting the ball; he came out aggressive going to the basket and getting to the line," Williams added. "So, it definitely worried us a little bit. That's why I tried to get it going."

TOURNEY TIME: Suffice it to say, Williams caught some flak from at least a few teammates over his University of Illinois team losing Thursday to Western Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"It messed up a lot of brackets, is all I'm gonna say," Carlos Boozer said.

Responded Williams: "I didn't expect us to go that far this year. Next year."

Boozer, meanwhile, got in touch with ex-Duke teammate Reggie Love — personal assistant to President Barack Obama — after the President recently made his tourney picks public.

"I hit my man Reggie up … and said, 'What's up with the president, Barack, picking the (rival University of North Carolina) Tar Heels to win the whole thing?' " Boozer said. "And he said, 'I know, he stabbed us both in the back on national TV.' "

LOOKING AHEAD: This offseason will be the first that the Jazz can talk contract extension with Ronnie Brewer, and — while not obsessing over it — the starting shooting guard seems hopeful a deal can be struck. "I really don't worry about it too much," said Brewer, who scored eight points and played 34 minutes Friday. "It either happens or it doesn't."

In the meantime, Brewer added Friday morning, "I continue to play throughout the season, try to work hard and get better every game, help improve this team, try to go as far in the playoffs and in the summertime (will) take a little time off and prepare myself for next season."

MISC.: With birthdays for teammates Kyle Korver and C.J. Miles earlier this week and Ronnie Brewer on Friday (he turned 24), Jazz big man Kosta Koufos has been busy with rookie hazing duties. On Friday he sang "Happy Birthday" to Brewer, and the rendition came replete with a Greek-style dance. … Craig Bolerjack is calling NCAA Tournament games in Boise for CBS, so Steve Brown worked Friday night's Jazz game for FSN Utah. The Boston Celtics on Friday reassigned guard J.R. Giddens to Utah Flash, the NBA Development League affiliate they share with the Flash.

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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