ATLANTA The Jazz played for a fourth straight game Monday without usual starting center Mehmet Okur, who remains sidelined with a strained and bruised left shoulder.
"I feel better but that's without contact, without pushing against anybody," Okur said before the Jazz's 116-111 loss to Atlanta on Monday night here. "I haven't tried any 1-on-1 or 5-on-5 on the floor."
The 2007 NBA All-Star Game center said Monday he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to return when the Jazz play Wednesday at Charlotte, their second outing on a four-game trip.
With Okur still out Monday, backup Jarron Collins opened for a third straight game and reserve big man Paul Millsap again came off the bench. Millsap, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan suggested, is a deserved beneficiary of the extra minutes he's been getting while Okur has been out.
"He's needed more playing time all along," Sloan said of the Jazz's usual backup power forward.
"It's hard to get everybody playing time when we're playing like we should," he added before Monday's game, "but if anybody deserves it he does because of the amount of work he puts in to play."
Millsap, however, wound up playing just 17 minutes Monday four below his season average.
HARPRING TESTED: Also out for the Jazz on Monday, as expected, was Atlanta area prep product and former Georgia Tech star Matt Harpring, who stayed back in Utah to undergo gastrointestinal testing.
Harpring, who led Marist High School to a Georgia state tournament title, became ill and passed out on the Jazz's return flight Friday from Portland to Salt Lake City.
He did not play in Saturday's win over Seattle.
Preliminary testing was performed Monday, a Jazz spokesman said, and additional tests are planned for today.
Plans continue to call for Harpring to rejoin the team in Charlotte tonight, making him available Wednesday night's game against the Bobcats.
SLOAN ON ALMOND: The Jazz's other Atlanta area prep product, rookie shooting guard Morris Almond, remains assigned to the NBA Development League's Utah Flash.
Even with the Jazz in dire need of strong outside shooting, and even with Harpring missing two straight games, Sloan prefers for Almond to remain with the Flash for now.
"We've got C.J. (Miles). He needs a chance to play some," Sloan said.
"I hate to start yanking these guys back and forth," he added with reference to youngsters assigned to the Flash, "because I think they need to develop a rhythm."
Asked Tuesday what Almond needs to add to his game to make it NBA ready, Sloan did not hesitate.
"He's got to get better defensively," the Jazz coach said of the Dalton, Ga., native who played at McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga.
"People don't realize how tough it is for you to learn how to fight over screens, get over screens, under screens do all that stuff ... then run the floor," he added. "It's the hardest thing for young guys to be able to do a lot of times run the floor defensively. They can run it offensively. They look like racehorses running it on offense most of the time, because all of them are wanting the ball."
Almond has played four times for the Flash, averaging 26.3 points including a recent 38-point outing that came on 15-of-37 field shooting while logging 52 minutes in a double-overtime game.MISC.: While Utah dressed just 11 healthy players Monday, the Hawks had only nine. Atlanta was without Josh Childress (groin), Acie Law (ankle), Salim Stoudamire (ankle), Speedy Claxton (knee), Tyronn Lue (calf) and Lorenzen Wright (flu). ... Sitting near the Jazz bench was NHL goals leader Ilya Kovalchuk, a close friend from Russia of Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko. ... The Jazz's last road win: Nov. 28 at Philadelphia. ... Al Horford's 17 points were a career high for the Hawks rookie, while veteran journeyman point guard Anthony Johnson posted season highs for both points (17) and assists (14).
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