TAYLORSVILLE Kyrylo Fesenko could have had the second-most lackluster, pitiful, off game in his basketball career Saturday night and, according to him, it would have been an improvement over his outing Friday.
"I can't go lower. Yesterday was the worst game of my life," the Jazz's second-year center said in regards to his zero-point, seven- turnover Rocky Mountain Revue opener showing. "I can't play worse than that, so to come back from that it was pretty easy. But, still, it was not enough to win."
Though the Jazz lost 72-63 to Atlanta on Saturday at the Salt Lake Community College, they'd undoubtedly trade a meaningless win all summer league long for improvements like the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian seemed to make overnight.
Fesenko flirted with a double-double and not with turnovers this time scoring nine points with nine rebounds, while also blocking three shots in a much more composed performance.
The Jazz's other big man 7-0 rookie Kosta Koufos, who started at power forward alongside Fesenko also had a big bounce back. The 19-year-old scored 12 points second-highest to Morris Almond's 17-point outing and wrapped up a double-double with 10 rebounds.
"The one thing that was encouraging tonight was that I thought that Fes and Kosta fought back, and both of them did very good of rebounding and especially on the offensive board," Jazz assistant coach Scott Layden said. "And that shows you a lot because I think we struggled as a team yesterday, but both of those guys fought back and did some very good things."
The Jazz only shot 34.3 percent but had 20 offensive rebounds, with Fesenko snaring seven and Koufos grabbing five.
"It was an improvement from yesterday," Koufos said, "but I've still got to improve and ... I'm excited to come out tomorrow and working on it."
Fesenko said he analyzed his mistakes from Friday and concentrated on sticking to his routines.
"(I) just try to play as good as I can," he said. "I just tried to do my job, tired to stay cool and not worry. ... Last night I was worried and I don't know why."
He said having his agent, his personal coach and his coach from Ukraine in town "probably helps, too."
It would also help his game if Fesenko would play what former Jazz center Mark Eaton described as "the high game," something that
could help him be a bigger defensive and rebounding presence down low.
"He's kind of playing with his hands down kinda low," Eaton said after watching the Jazz game Saturday. "That's an area I think he could make a great improvement in in a very short period of time if he'd just get focused on getting his hands up above his shoulders while he's playing the game."
Fesenko provided the Revue crowd with one of the scariest/funniest/biggest highlight moments. He threw down a hard two-handed slam but let go of the rim when his feet were out of position, sending him crashing to the floor on his arm and backside.
Fans gasped, but Fesenko popped up, smiled and ran downcourt no worse for the wear.
"When I jumped and when I tried to pull up, I forget I have no hops," he said. "I was thinking that it ... looked funny, but everybody was thinking I was injured. No. Don't worry. It's not enough to injure me."
Former University of Utah star Britton Johnsen gave his hometown crowd a couple of other plays to loudly cheer about. Johnsen, who scored six points in 16:26 of play, swatted away Brian Randle's strong dunk attempt, and later had a rim-shaking follow-dunk that elicited a loud roar.
Jazz guard Russell Carter left the game early after injuring his left knee in a collision with a teammate. He will have an MRI done today.
In Saturday's other Revue action:
DALLAS 79, IRAN 62: Gerald Green, a first-round draft choice for Boston in 2005, was the Mavericks' top scorer for a second straight Revue game, putting up 15 against the Iranian Olympic Team. Big man Hamed Ehadadi had 19 points and shot 7-of-12 from the field for Iran.
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