Three Jazz players won't play
The Utah Jazz will be missing three players, including two starters, for tonight’s game against the Thunder.
Forward Andrei Kirilenko, who suffered a strained calf Friday night in a loss to Milwaukee, won’t play tonight and will undergo an MRI Monday in Salt Lake City.
Utah Center Mehmet Okur (back) also is out along with guard Ronnie Price, who will miss his second straight game with a sprained wrist. Price also will undergo an MRI on Monday.
“We’ll just use different people,” said Utah coach Jerry Sloan. “We won’t change our system. Somebody else fills that hole. Hopefully they’ll play well. That’s all you can hope for.”
Sloan said at Sunday morning’s shootaround seldom used center Kyrylo Fesenko probably will get some minutes. Guard Saundiata Gaines, who has carved out a role since being signed from the D-League, will be part of the Jazz’s rotation.
It’s a pivotal game in the Western Conference race. The Thunder, currently fifth, trails the fourth-place Jazz by 11/2 games.
“Guys are aware of that and realize it’s important,” Sloan said. “They may say they don’t (look at the standings). But deep down they prepare a little differently.
“They also get more money. You get more money if you finish first (in the West). If you finish eighth you don’t get as much as if you finish seventh or sixth.”
Carlos Boozer, the Western Conference’s Player of the Month in February, said tonight’s game, like games upcoming games against Phoenix and Denver, are pivotal when determining which teams earn a top four seed for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
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