PHILADELPHIA After making it through the first 15 games of the season injury-free save for Matt Harpring's summer knee-surgery rehab the Jazz had a couple of notable health scares in Wednesday night's win at Philadelphia.
Starting center Mehmet Okur exited due to back spasms with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. He returned to the Jazz bench in the fourth but did not play the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, starting power forward Carlos Boozer sprained his right ankle late in the opening half.
He returned after getting re-taped at halftime and played the entire second half, scoring 14 of his 26 points and pulling down all of his seven rebounds after the break.
But the ankle, Boozer suggested afterward, definitely was hurting.
"I'm gonna ... get ready for Friday," he said, looking forward the Jazz's meeting Friday night with the Los Angeles Lakers. "It'll be all right."
Boozer stayed on the floor for several seconds after initially getting hurt while going for a rebound. It was clear he was injured, however, as he passed up an opportunity to lift off the ankle for what could have been an easy basket.
"I was trying to just kind of loosen up a little bit, walk it off a little bit," Boozer said, "because when you're first injured, when you first sprain your ankle, it goes numb, so you can't feel it."
As for Okur, he was in even more pain after the game.
"I feel tight right now," he said when asked if he feared a long-term absence. "We're all gonna see."
Okur, who has a history of back issues, said his back has bothered him on and off since training camp began in October. It hadn't caused him to miss any time prior to Wednesday, though.
EMPTY ARENA: Attendance was announced to be just 11,006, but it looked like about half that actually were on hand at Wachovia Center.
Not that that should be an excuse for the way anyone played, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan suggested.
"If you're getting paid the money these guys are getting paid, and they're gonna say, 'There's nobody here, and I can't play'? Give me a break," Sloan said.
"That's the only concern I have with our people is trying to play hard, and do the right thing," he added. "It's sometimes difficult to do, because guys get a little attitude and get their nose out of joint and think the world's against them. But they're getting a pretty good paycheck to play this game."
NO GIRICEK: After losing his backup shooting-guard role to Ronnie Price, veteran Gordan Giricek did not play in any of the three games on the Jazz's just-concluded road trip.
Asked about Giricek's response to the benching, Sloan pointed out that the team hasn't had a full practice yet.
"We'll see whenever we put him on the floor," he said.
"We make decisions, obviously, that players don't like sometimes," Sloan added. "It's just part of this business."MISC.: Reserve swingman C.J. Miles and rookie shooting guard Morris Almond also did not play on the trip, as Sloan stuck with a 10-man rotation for all games ... Jazz point Deron Williams brushed off questions about a mid-game conversation he had with assistant coach Phil Johnson, saying, "I just went over and talked to Coach ... (about) coaching stuff." ... Ex-University of Utah star Andre Miller had 16 points for Philadelphia; ex-Jazz forward Louis Amundson dressed but did not play (coach's decision) for the 76ers ... The Jazz's home game against the Lakers on Friday night an 8:30 p.m. start because of ESPN coverage already is a sellout, the team announced Wednesday.
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