Carlos Boozer has set target dates to return already this season, only to have them come back to bite him when his left knee wasn't ready. Judging from his own words Thursday, though, Boozer will be back soon after the All-Star break.
Boozer, who underwent knee surgery Jan. 9, has been working out the last two or three days on an elliptical machine -- "It's a big step," he said -- and is hopeful he could be back on the court running either this weekend or sometime early next week.
With that in mind, Boozer is targeting the Jazz's first game after the All-Star break -- Feb. 17 at home against Memphis -- to make his long-awaited return. Boozer has missed 38 games since he was injured Nov. 19.
"I'm hoping to play that Memphis game," Boozer said. "If it's ready, I'm hoping to play that Memphis game."
Told that it must feel like a long time since he was last on the court, Boozer said: "You have no idea. I'm champing at the bit over here, so hopefully it comes through."
Soon to follow?
If Boozer can return Feb. 17, the Jazz could have their full team together for the first time this season. Andrei Kirilenko said Thursday he was "getting better and better" after undergoing ankle surgery last Friday and is on a similar timetable to return.
"I'm aiming to play right after All-Star break," Kirilenko said. "It's a little bit faster than it's supposed to be, but we'll see. We'll see how it goes, because I haven't run yet. But in the fourth day after surgery, I start working out, so it doesn't feel that bad."
Kirilenko was wearing a walking boot Thursday and said he has no soreness in his right ankle after having bone fragments removed. He's waiting for the incision from the operation to heal and will have the stitches removed today.
C.J. Miles missed Thursday's game with bronchitis, but did join the team for this weekend's trip to play Sacramento and Golden State. Kyle Korver started in Miles' absence, his first start in 96 games since coming to the Jazz.
As part of tonight's game against the Jazz, the Kings will retire Chris Webber 's No. 4. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan praised Webber for being "as skilled a big man as you could see play" but has little fondness for one play from Webber's past.
Only nine seconds into Game 2 of the Jazz's 1999 first-round playoff series against Sacramento, Webber drilled John Stockton with a flagrant-foul hit in retaliation for the Jazz's 30-point victory in Game 1.
"John would probably tell you he didn't think he could get up," Sloan said. "He got up and showed the toughness he had. Don't question John Stockton's toughness compared to Webber's.
"If you're going to hit somebody, you go get the biggest guy out there and level him. Don't go after the smallest guy and knock him down. That doesn't show any toughness."
At Arco Arena
Time » 8 p.m.
TV » FSN Utah
Radio » 1320 AM, 98.7 FM
Records » Jazz 28-22, Sacramento 11-39
Last meeting » Jazz won 99-94 on Dec. 2
Line » PK
About the Jazz » They will be playing the Kings for the first time since Kenny Natt took over Dec. 15 as interim coach for Reggie Theus. Natt was an assistant on Jerry Sloan's staff for nine seasons and told the Sacramento Bee: "I know what they are running before they know what they are running on the offensive end of the floor." The Jazz are 1-11 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season.
About the Kings » Sacramento is coming off a humiliating 129-81 loss Monday to Phoenix. The 48-point blowout was the most one-sided loss in the NBA season. Natt is 5-21 since taking over for Theus, with Sacramento having lost nine of its last 10 games. The Kings are giving up 108.8 points, worst in the NBA other than Golden State.