On a typical day, Jazz rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko he of limited driving skills catches a ride from Salt Lake City to Utah County for Utah Flash practice with either fellow NBA Development League-assigned Jazz rookie Morris Almond and/or Flash forward John Millsap, Jazz forward Paul Millsap's younger brother.
When the call to Almond's phone telling him he had been recalled to the Jazz came at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, however, Fesenko had to find a different way to work.
"I told him, 'You're on your own today, buddy,' " Almond said,
Almond made it to EnergySolutions Arena in time for Tuesday's morning shootaround, and was back in uniform for Tuesday night.
During his first Jazz stint, the ex-Rice University shooting guard went scoreless in 12 minutes over three games. This time he scored his first two NBA points, driving past Kareem Rush for a late-game floater in the Jazz's 111-89 win over Indiana.
"I'd rather score two points up here than 50 in the D-League any day," said Almond, whose first Flash go-round included a league record-tying 51-point effort in a double-overtime win over Austin. "But I was really wasn't concerned. I really was focused on defense out there, trying to not let my man get easy points even though it was cleanup time."
Finally scoring in the NBA certainly was a relief to Almond, though there was no instant praise. In fact, longtime Jazz public-address announcer Dan Roberts first called the basket for Paul Millsap, then quickly corrected himself.
"I caught that one," Almond said. "I said, 'Dang, the one day I finally get in the game and they credit the basket to the wrong person.' Just my luck."
Assigned to the Flash on Dec. 6, Almond averaged a D-League leading 29.8 points while averaging 37.6 minutes in 10 starts.
"That should give him confidence," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "But there are other things to this game."
How long the 2007 first-round draft pick sticks around this time is uncertain.
The recall was made mostly because both usual starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko and reserve combo guard Ronnie Price both missed Tuesday's game.
Kirilenko has missed two straight games now with lower-back inflammation originally sustained in practice last Thursday. His condition was said to be improving, but his status for Thursday night's TNT-televised game vs. Phoenix remains uncertain.
Price, seen wearing a walking boot Tuesday, was out because of a left-ankle inversion sprain sustained during practice Monday. The Utah Valley State product initially thought he'd be OK, but by Tuesday morning the joint had swelled considerably.
The injury to Price who has played both sparingly (19 games) and sporadically is not thought to be serious. Ditto for Kirilenko, a 2004 All-Star Game participant.
If that remains the case, and both return relatively soon, Almond's stay may be short indeed.
"My own inclination is he needs to play," O'Connor said. "That's why we have the D-League."
OOPS: Jazz backup point guard Jason Hart extended his hand to Indiana's Marquis Daniel while dribbling down the final few seconds of Tuesday's blowout win, but instead of shaking or slapping it Daniel actually grabbed the ball to register a cheap steal stat.
"I was trying to ... be a good sport," Hart said. "But I let my guard down, so that's my mistake. I won't do that again."
PUSH AND SHOVE: With Jamaal Tinsley returning from a sore left thigh to start at point for the Pacers, ex-Jazz guard Andre Owens returned to Indiana's bench and finished with seven points in 19 minutes.
Owens was perhaps most noticeable when he pushed Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer on fastbreak layup attempt and wound up getting called for a flagrant foul.
No biggie, Brewer suggested."I wouldn't have given up a layup like that either," he said.
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