Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter hopes to return against Mavs
NBA • He’s eager to play tonight after missing last two games
Published: January 7, 2013 12:57PM
Updated: January 16, 2013 06:28PM
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Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter, below, of Turkey, is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Jazz center Enes Kanter is hungry — and not just because of his strict seafood and salad diet.

Kanter hopes to return to the Jazz lineup Monday against the Dallas Mavericks after his team split two road games as Kanter watched from the sideline with a sprained right ankle.

“I am hungry,” Kanter said. “I watched my team against Denver and in the Phoenix game. I really wanted to play, but I couldn’t play because of my ankle. Now I want to go and play.”

The second-year player from Turkey has stuck to the careful diet that helped him shed nearly 50 pounds in the offseason. However, he suffered the ankle injury in the waning moments of the Jazz’s 106-84 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.

Kanter went through a full shoot around on Monday, but stopped short of saying he was 100 percent healthy.

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and try and just like the last two games, I’m getting treatment, in a brace. I’m going to try hard, do a good job. My ankle feels so much better.”

Kanter’s return would coincide with the arrival of a team the Jazz haven’t seen since opening night. They defeated Dallas 113-94 on Halloween. While the Jazz have endured a frustrating start to the season, the Mavericks have been downright awful. Just two seasons removed from an NBA championship, the Mavs are 13-21 and have lost 11-of-13 games.

Star forward Dirk Nowitzki on Sunday questioned Dallas’ front office, saying the team was built on the hope of landing a superstar to complement him, and that it was left empty-handed when Deron Williams re-upped with Brooklyn in the summer.

Nowitzki has played in just seven games after preseason knee surgery and returned to the Mavs’ starting lineup on Saturday.

“He’s a good player,” Kanter said. “I know him, I’ve played against him in Europe, I’ve played against him several times here. Like I said, whenever I go play against good players like that, I can’t wait. I just can’t wait to play against a player like him. So, it’s going to be fun.”

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz