Jazz benefit from being the picture of health
Portland, Ore. » As they've trekked across the Western Conference in the week since the All-Star break, the Jazz have seen firsthand the havoc injuries have caused for some of their counterparts.
They faced New Orleans without Chris Paul (knee surgery), as well as Houston with Trevor Ariza in his first game back from a hip injury and Golden State with Monta Ellis making his return from a sprained knee.
As for Sunday, Portland's Brandon Roy was playing his second game back from a hamstring injury that kept him out of 14 games plus the All-Star Game. Two of the Jazz's victories of the Blazers this season, in fact, came with Roy missing.
The Jazz, by comparison, have been the picture of health, without a single injury of significance since Carlos Boozer missed three games with a strained right calf from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has credited it with being no small factor in the recent run that has seen his team win 16 of 18 games entering Sunday. Boozer, Deron Williams , Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur have missed a combined 20 games all season.
"I realize how difficult it is," Sloan said. "We've had situations where guys have been hurt and it's tough to win. It's tough to win when you've got everybody healthy. But you just try to do the best you can and go on."
Although C.J. Miles (thumb surgery) and Kyle Korver (knee surgery) missed significant time at the start of the season, the Jazz have remained remarkably injury-free since their return.
"I said when we were injured, if we could get everybody healthy, I thought we'd be able to come back and play a little bit," Sloan said. "We're a fragile team like a lot of teams. If something goes wrong, it's tough to be able to have a chance to win."
Although he suffered a partially torn right hamstring in his first game with Memphis following Thursday's trade, former Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer is optimistic that he won't need surgery and will be able to return this season.
The Grizzlies believe that Brewer will miss about three weeks, with general manager Chris Wallace telling the Memphis Commercial Appeal , "From what I understand, if you're going to have a hamstring injury, it's one of the more favorable ones to have."
"To me, it's disappointing," Brewer told the paper. "I let the team down and the city down. There was so much [hype] for me to come and be an instant fix for the problems on the bench.
"To get out there in my first game and get hurt is tough. ... I'm going to try to get back as soon as I can and contribute to this team."
Okur is expected to return tonight after his wife gave birth Friday. Asked if he would start Okur after he missed the Jazz's past two games, Sloan said, "If he hasn't done any work, I'd be reluctant to play him very much."
At EnergySolutions Arena
Time » 7 p.m.
TV » FSN Utah
Radio » 1320 AM, 98.7 FM
Records » Jazz 36-19, Atlanta 34-20
Last meeting » Hawks, 96-83 (Dec. 18)
Line » Jazz by 51/2
About the Jazz » The final score doesn't suggest it, but the Jazz's December loss to the Hawks might have been their most one-sided of the season. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan benched all five starters with 5:51 left in the third quarter with his team trailing 67-40. Deron Williams (two points, four assists) and Carlos Boozer (six points, six rebounds) both were held in single digits and the Jazz committed 24 turnovers while acknowledging they were ill prepared for Atlanta's length, which allowed the Hawks to aggressively switch on defense.
About the Hawks » This will be the final stop of a four-game trip for the Hawks, who lost to Golden State on Sunday. ... Atlanta has established itself as one of the Eastern Conference's top four teams. ... Joe Johnson and Al Horford both were selected All-Stars. ... The Hawks' last victory in Utah came Feb. 13, 1993.