Boozer targets Saturday return
With Carlos Boozer targeting Saturday's game against Denver to return from his strained right calf, the Jazz again will face the question of what to do with Paul Millsap , who has starred so far in Boozer's absence.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan suggested Millsap would resume coming off the bench once Boozer returns. Millsap is coming off games of 25 points, nine rebounds and four blocks against Dallas and 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists against Sacramento.
"It shouldn't be a problem, I wouldn't think, because the bottom line is winning," Sloan said. "If there's anything other than that involved in it, then nothing ever works in this league, whenever that becomes a focal point of 'I'm the guy' or 'I'm this, I'm that.'
"Somebody has to come off the bench and Paul is an energetic guy, he's always played well for us off the bench. I don't see any reason why we can't stay that way to a certain extent. Maybe try to get him some more minutes on the floor. He's earned all those things."
Millsap has showed off an expanded game with Boozer injured, hitting three jumpers from 19 feet or farther against the Mavericks. He blocked three shots in the fourth quarter and now is averaging 16.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in 43 career starts.
"I'm going to continue to do what I've been doing, continue to be humble," Millsap said. "If I've got to come off the bench, come off the bench -- I know I'm probably going to come off the bench -- but come off the bench and just do my job.
"That's the main thing. Just stay positive. I know things will work out."
Boozer planned to work out Tuesday and said he hoped to practice Thursday or Friday in the hopes of playing Saturday. He praised Millsap and noted the likelihood they would be paired together once he returns.
"I think he's played great every time he's got a chance to play extended minutes," Boozer said. "He's been playing great all season. I think he stepped into a situation where he got new opportunities, and he makes the most out of them."
Millsap will draw another tough matchup tonight in Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge , who is averaging 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds and is a long 6-foot-11 player.
Sloan has opted to pair Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko in an undersized but active frontline the past two games. Mehmet Okur has not played in the fourth quarter of either game as a result. But Sloan has his concerns about Millsap getting into foul trouble.
C.J. Miles , meanwhile, said Millsap's play has come as anything but a surprise.
"It's a comfort level, knowing you're going to be out there extended minutes, knowing you'll get a couple more shots," Miles said. "If you can get a rhythm, you don't have to really press for anything.
"He's done what everybody here knows he's capable of doing."
Deron Williams has been confirmed to take part in the Saturday night skills contest as part of All-Star weekend in Dallas. Williams, the 2008 winner, will compete against Phoenix's Steve Nash , Chicago's Derrick Rose and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings .
Tonight's game is a 7 p.m. start, having been changed from 8:30 p.m. as originally scheduled. ... Sundiata Gaines was selected to the NBA Development League's All-Star Game but won't take part after signing with the Jazz. ... Ronnie Brewer sat out practice with a bruised back and is a game-time decision to play tonight.
At EnergySolutions Arena
Time » 7 p.m.
TV » FSN Utah
Radio » 98.7 FM, 1320 AM
Records » Jazz 29-18, Portland XX-X
Last meeting » Jazz, 106-95 (Jan. 27)
About the Jazz » They will be bidding to win their seventh straight game and can win the season series from the Blazers with a victory tonight. ... Ronnie Brewer didn't practice Tuesday after suffering a bruised back against the Mavericks. ... The Jazz jumped out to a 21-2 lead on the Blazers in last week's victory.
About the Blazers » Brandon Roy already has been ruled out of the game as he continues to battle an injured right hamstring. ... Andre Miller scored a career-high 52 points Saturday in Dallas, but had just seven points on 2-for-11 shooting three nights earlier against the Jazz. ... Portland is coming off a 98-79 victory Monday over Charlotte, with Nicolas Batum scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds off the bench. Batum is averaging 10.2 points in five games since returning from a shoulder injury.
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