Oklahoma City • Paul Millsap will return to the lineup for the Utah Jazz tonight after inflammation in his right knee forced him to miss the last two games.
Coach Tyrone Corbin said Millsap would return to the starting lineup after missing four of the Jazz’s last seven games, a stretch in which the team went 2-5 and lost their spot in the top eight in the Western Conference.
“Grateful that it wasn’t more serious,” Millsap said, “but I can get out here and get my body right and try to make this run coming down the stretch.”
Of course, things aren’t going to come easily to the Jazz. They have 18 games remaining, starting Wednesday against the defending Western Conference champion Thunder.
“The guys should be excited,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I’m excited for them. It’s a tough time of the year, it’s a big game for us, a big game for them. This is the kind of competition you look forward to this time of year.”
Despite Millsap’s return, the Jazz still won’t have their full team together — something that’s happened only once in the last three months. Reserve point guard Jamaal Tinsley did not make the trip to Oklahoma City due to illness.
Millsap said this recent stretch in which he has been banged up has been a “struggle mentally. In his first seven years with the Jazz, the power forward missed just 14 games due to injury.
“I haven’t been really used to missing this many games,” Millsap said, “especially at once.”
On Tuesday the Jazz fell ½ a game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth seed in the Western Conference after the Lakers won in Orlando.
“You feel the pressure of everybody talking about the overall picture,” Corbin said,. “Well, you’ve got to take care of the here and now first to be in position at the end.”
Jazz at Thunder
Wednesday, 6 p.m.