Utah Jazz: Can't strong-arm Jazz
PHILADELPHIA - He was in the starting lineup only because Mehmet Okur had a family emergency in Turkey, because Jarron Collins still had an injured right elbow and because Kyrylo Fesenko had a visa appointment in Toronto.
But Kosta Koufos couldn't have taken better advantage of the opportunity that presented itself Tuesday. The 19-year-old center finished with six points and five rebounds in 21 minutes as the third-youngest starter in Jazz history.
"He's so much farther ahead than when he got here, going back to the summer and then also going back to this fall," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's made a lot of progress because he's worked hard."
Koufos missed his first two shots, one of which was blocked by Samuel Dalembert, but dunked off an alley-oop pass from Ronnie Brewer for his first NBA points. He flipped in two more shots around the basket and had two blocks as well.
"I gained more confidence as the game progressed," Koufos said, "but like I said before, just play within the system, play hard, and just do what little things that Coach Sloan told me to do, just rebound and block shots and just get up and down the court as fast as possible."
The only players younger than Koufos (19 years, 261 days) to start for the Jazz are C.J. Miles (19, 228) and DeShawn Stevenson (19, 229).
"The big thing with him is he just needs to slow down," Deron Williams said. "He gets so sped up and he's so anxious to play. But he's going to be good for us, I think, as he learns more and more about the game. He's just so young right now."
Kyle Korver acknowledged that he got too excited playing his first game back in Philadelphia after last December's trade to Utah. He launched a three-pointer only 15 seconds after checking in for the start of the second quarter and went 1-for-7 in the game.
"I was too rushed out there," said Korver, who hosted a group of 200 children at the game and was greeted by well-wishers all night.
"Everyone wants to say hello and talk to you and you've kind of got to get focused. I obviously didn't do quite as good of a job as I should have."
Korver was booed when he hit his only shot, a three-pointer in the second quarter, but wasn't surprised. "That's exactly what I expected, cheers then boos," Korver said. "This is Philadelphia. I wasn't expecting cheers the whole time, but that's fine."
According to his Web site (http://www.memo13.com), Okur left the Jazz on Monday to be with his father, Abdullah, who "has been sick for a long time now" and is in an intensive-care unit in Turkey. Abdullah Okur was taken into intensive care two weeks ago, showed enough improvement to be moved into a regular unit before his condition "all of a sudden deteriorated and he was immediately taken back into intensive care once again."
Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Okur were included on the NBA's 2009 All-Star ballot. . . . Now in Washington, former Jazz guard Dee Brown will play against his old team tonight. . . . Ronnie Price was the first point guard off the bench in the first half, while Brevin Knight was first off the bench in the second. . . . Collins dressed but was available only in an emergency.
Jazz at Wizards
Where: Verizon Center
Tipoff: Today, 6 p.m.
TV: FSN Utah
Radio: 1320 AM, 98.7 FM
Records: Jazz 6-1; Washington 0-5
Last meeting: Jazz won 129-87 on March 31
About the Jazz: The Wizards are the only winless team left in the NBA, but will have been off for three days before playing the Jazz. Former Jazz guard DeShawn Stevenson is averaging 9.2 points for the Wizards and owns the NBA's second-longest streak of consecutive games started at 255, trailing only Detroit's Tayshaun Prince.
About the Wizards: Washington never has started a season 0-6 and will be looking to avoid that dubious history tonight. Wizards forward Antawn Jamison already has declared, "It's pretty much a must-win six games into the season." Washington is last in the league, giving up 108.8 points on 50.2 percent shooting. Gilbert Arenas is out until at least December after undergoing left knee surgery. Antonio Daniels is day-to-day with a sore right knee.
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