Jazz center Al Jefferson has tendinitis in his right ankle, an MRI examination revealed Thursday.
Utah’s leading scorer and rebounder, Jefferson accompanied the team to Dallas, where the Jazz play Friday night. His availability against the Mavericks will be a game-time decision, a team spokesman said.
Coach Tyrone Corbin said Jefferson was fine during two days of practice early this week, but he left a Wednesday morning shootaround early because “he started to run and said he felt some pain running up his leg.”
After being the only member of the Jazz to play in all 82 games last season, Jefferson did not dress for Toronto’s 111-106 double-overtime win over Utah.
Meanwhile, veteran guard Raja Bell is listed as a game-time decision against Dallas because of soreness in his knee and back.
Howard “felt great”
Veteran Josh Howard returned from a four-game absence against Toronto.
He was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in 16 minutes, although he grabbed five rebounds.
“I felt great,” Howard said. “I got in there [and] moved like I wanted to. I didn’t make the shots I wanted. I felt like I could have helped the team out a little more. But, overall, I felt good.”
Howard isn’t worried about the reception awaiting in Dallas, where he played almost seven seasons before being traded to Washington and, this year, signing with the Jazz.
“I never worried about that,” he said. “I’m more worried about how we respond to the [Toronto] loss, going into a hostile environment.
“They are the champions. We know they aren’t going to take it easy on us. … They have guys on that team that have been through the wars.”
Dallas still a challenge
Dallas will play without All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, who is sidelined with a sore knee.
“We can’t relax against anybody,” Corbin said. “If you relax against anybody in this league, you’re capable of getting beat. They lost Dirk, but they have very good players. They are defending champions. They are going to be ready to play.”
Minnesota beat the Mavericks on Wednesday night, 105-90.
Said Jazz guard Earl Watson: “They are going to be edgy. … Those are tough games when a team — a championship team — is coming off a loss.”