LOS ANGELES — He hasn't turned to him for two of the Jazz's last three games, but coach Jerry Sloan does face head-on the reason swingman Kyle Korver hasn't been playing.

"Some of the things he's struggled with a little bit has been his defense," Sloan said Monday. "I think that's hurt him some.

"He still shoots the ball very well, but it makes difficult for us to try to put a guy out there just to experiment to see where we are and see where he is."

Korver underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 28, and missed 24 games as a result.

He said Monday he still isn't 100 percent, but remains ready to contribute when called upon — and doesn't want to cause ripples when he isn't.

"I'm just trying to stay with it. We've won how many games in a row?" Korver said, knowing the answer is eight heading into tonight's visit with the Los Angeles Clippers. "I've never been that kind of person anyway, so I'll just keep on staying after practice and make sure I stay in shape and try to get better right now."

Korver plans to spend the upcoming NBA All-Star Weekend break at a California training facility he's visited twice already post-surgery.

"I'm not all the way healthy now," he said, "so I'm gonna take this time to get there."

Some of Korver's minutes have became extra for starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko; the rest have gone to a certain undrafted rookie shooting guard averaging 22 minutes per game.

"Nobody told me Wes Matthews would want some time," Sloan said, recalling another time minutes unexpectedly went to a rookie.

"Shandon Anderson came in (in 1996) ... and he was a second-round pick. Then players get upset with me because I played him," the Jazz coach added. "All I'm trying to do is play the best as much as I can, and play people that's gonna give us a chance to win. It looks personal.

But it's not anything I have against him."

Korver — who averaged 24 minutes last season in his first full year with the Jazz, and never previously missed more than eight games in any of six NBA seasons — seemingly understands.

"Mentally I'm fresh," he said.

But, Korver added, "It's been a tough year.

I've never been hurt for an extended period of time. I've never not been in the game. It's tough, sure. But, like I said, we're winning games."

The Jazz are, and Sloan suggested he'll continue doing whatever it takes to keep that going.

31 comments on this story

Even if that means cutting out at times a former rotation regular — one who as recently as Jan. 27 shot 5-of-7 and scored 16 in a win at Portland.

"I was disappointed I didn't get him in the last couple games," he said. "But life goes on.

"I wish it was a lot easier. It doesn't make me feel good to know he's sitting out, because he needs to play," Sloan added.

"I know he's a terrific shooter, and there will be times we need him. Hopefully he can hang in there and fight through it. So far he has."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com