SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz were down two players at practice this morning.
Because of injuries, center Al Jefferson and Raja Bell did not participate with the team ahead of its flight to Dallas for Friday night's game against the defending champions.
Both Jefferson (inflamed right ankle) and Bell (sore back, right knee) will travel with the team and will be game-time decisions for the Jazz-Mavs game.
Jefferson missed his second game of the season Wednesday, sitting out the 111-106 double-overtime loss to Toronto with an inflamed right ankle.
Big Al will get an MRI taken on his ankle today to determine whether there is structural damage causing the pain and swelling. After his first flare-up in late December, Jefferson said he hadn't taken medicine to keep the inflammation in his ankle down allowing the old injury to bother him again.
Bell played Wednesday, but his body got banged up. As he often does, Bell kept his lower back wrapped when he wasn't in the game. He said he hopes to play Friday.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said part of this morning's focus will be on executing better against zone defenses. The Raptors bogged down Utah's offense — as Golden State and Dallas have previously done — by clogging the paint and forcing the Jazz to try to beat them outside. Utah, however, only shot 41 percent after a 32-point first quarter and was hindered by 4-for-18 shooting from 3-point range.
"We had great movement in the beginning of the ballgame," Corbin said. "The zone threw us off because now guys tend to think we've got to wait for the zone to shift instead of making it shift by moving. ... We just got out of whack."
That opened the door for the 6-13 Raptors to make an 18-point comeback against the Jazz, who fell to 10-6.
The Jazz will play Dallas for the second time in eight days. Utah lost a rough game against the Mavs a week ago Thursday at EnergySolutions Arena, but the NBA champions will be without star big man Dirk Nowitzki. He is taking four games off to work himself into better playing shape.
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