Carlos Boozer, who went through his first actual full-length practice of the season with the Utah Jazz on Sunday morning after missing most of training camp to be with his ill son in Miami, said he feels like he's almost ready.
"I think I'm close. I don't think I'm too far away from where I want to be," the power forward said before a two-plus-hour Jazz workout at the Zion's Bank Basketball Center. "I came back ready. I came back in great shape. I've only been here for a week, so I'm still trying to play catch-up, but I'm not that far away."
Point guard Deron Williams, who's been through the whole training camp, feels less secure.
"I feel kind of out of sync with everybody. I think we've just got to get on the same page," he said, quietly lobbying for more court time on the two-game preseason-ending road trip to meet the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif., and Thursday in San Diego.
"We haven't really had a chance to play together a lot. I've averaged like 20 minutes, Booz just came back, most of the starters and regular guys are only playing about 24 minutes a game," Williams said. "Hopefully we can get a little bit more time together these last two games to try to get a rhythm going."
As of Sunday morning, the Jazz were still carrying their full training camp roster, and coach Jerry Sloan said he was unsure if he'll cut anyone before making this trip.
"I don't have to cut anybody right now," he said. "I haven't decided."
Sloan admitted he goes back and forth in his mind about it. "Some of those guys played pretty good last night (Saturday's public scrimmage); they need the opportunity to play a little more, probably."
Sloan can't be sure how much a couple of his regulars will be able to do this week. Andrei Kirilenko was sent home from Sunday's practice before it started with what was described as stomach flu.
Matt Harpring is still unsure about how much he'll participate, if at all, in these games or if he'll be ready to go by the season opener Oct. 30 at Golden State. He is rehabbing a right knee that was arthroscopically cleaned out in August. In Sunday's practice, he participated in non-contact drills only, as he's done since the preseason started.
And Memo Okur is trying to conserve on his overworked toe that's been bothering him for a couple of months. Also, he banged knees with someone in Saturday's scrimmage, though he said the knee was fine Sunday. Okur ices his "dancer's toe" before and after practice, puts it in hot and cold pools and even gets massages on it. Sometimes it limits what he can do. Other times it doesn't bother him.
"I just want to play all 82 games," he said. "If it will get bad, I don't know. I don't want to sit on the side and watch the game. Hopefully I'm going to feel better before the season starts. I don't want to sit on the side."
Okur sees the team goal for the last two exhibition games as gaining consistency.
"We know pretty much each other now, on the court and off the court. We've been up and down. That's why we play preseason. We want consistent basketball every night," he said
Boozer said the Jazz need to improve their defensive rotation, particularly on pick-and-rolls, and to "get crisp on offense."
Sloan sees several goals for the week.
"We've got a lot of things to improve on," he said, noting a need to better understand the offense, defend better and improve on handling the kind of pressure teams like Phoenix and Sacramento put on Utah last week.They "got after us defensively, and we weren't quite ready for that," he said. "They put pressure on you both ways put pressure on the basket by pushing the ball and taking deep shots, but they also put pressure on you with defense."
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