Associated Press
Utah Jazz's Deron Williams, right, watches game action from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, in Oakland, Calif.

SALT LAKE CITY — Deron Williams is making progress — just not enough to play yet.

Though he warmed up a bit prior to Monday's game, the All-Star sat out his third consecutive game because of a strained tendon in his right wrist.

Williams didn't speak with media, but Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said things are looking up for his starting point guard.

"He's getting a little better, I think," Sloan said.

It remains up in the air whether he'll play Wednesday when the Jazz host Houston.

Williams hasn't played or practiced since he re-aggravated his right wrist during last Wednesday's game against San Antonio. D-Will ended up scoring 39 points in the loss, even after getting injured in the first quarter.

Williams hadn't missed any games before this stretch this season, and the Jazz aren't pressuring him to return. Utah has gone 2-1 in his absence after losing the previous six.

"It's one of those things — whenever he's ready to play, that's when they'll put him out there," Sloan said. "We won't try to force him out there or anything like that because it's counterproductive. So we'll have to wait and see. That's just part of basketball."

Center Mehmet Okur also didn't dress for a second straight game.

Okur was sidelined for Sunday's game — a rough 96-81 setback to the Warriors at Oracle Arena — after straining his lower back again during Friday's 108-100 win over Minnesota.

This was Okur's eighth missed game due to back problems. He also sat out two for an ankle sprain after being sidelined for the first 26 games while rehabbing his Achilles tendon.

KID'S PLAY: It's no secret the Jazz's defense has been a major problem lately, and that struggle contributed to the team losing six straight and seven of eight.

During that skid, the Jazz allowed opponents to score an average of 105.6 points per game.

"We're not as physical," Sloan said. "If you're going to win, you're going to have to be a physical team."

Before Monday's game, the Jazz coach said he believed his team can improve in that area, depending on the players' attitude.

Holding Charlotte to 78 points has to be considered a good starting point.

"I think everybody knows what they're supposed to do," Sloan said. "You tell a young kid that he's supposed to stay between your man and a basket. I don't know if that sinks in or not because we have told them that."

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Rebounding has been an issue for the Jazz all season. Utah ranks 28th overall and is tied for 23rd in defensive rebounding as it allows 11.4 offensive boards an outing.

The latter, Sloan pointed out, throws a wrench in the Jazz's ability to get out and move the ball in the transition game.

"I don't mind running at all, but running without the ball is pretty tough. That's where the problems come in at times," Sloan said. "You don't get the basketball, you don't rebound, you don't block somebody off the board and they get it again for another shot.

"Sometimes you have a tendency of you want to run before you get the ball."

After watching Paul Millsap grab a pair of key offensive rebounds late in the Jazz's win Monday, the Bobcats feel Utah's pain.


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