Utah Jazz: Williams 'probable' for Blazers, Matthews
Jazz point guard Deron Williams missed Wednesday morning's practice because of "gastric distress," team spokesman Jonathan Rinehart said.
Williams showed up for the session but was sent home because of his illness.
Williams is listed as "probable" for the Jazz's preseason opener Thursday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
The game will be a homecoming for Portland guard Wesley Matthews, an undrafted rookie who became a starter for the Jazz last season.
He signed a five-year, $32.5 million free-agent contract with the Trail Blazers during the offseason.
Matthews scored 20 points Tuesday night in the Blazers' 115-86 preseason win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Asked about Matthews' return, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan shrugged and said, "We have to play whoever is playing. I can't worry about who he is. He's a good player. We know he's a good player. We had him. So what do you do about it?"
Sloan wants his team to "â¦ just go play basketball. Hopefully, we don't have a love-fest or something like that. Just play basketball. That's the bottom line. I'm sure [Matthews] will do that. I don't think there's any question how he'll come to play."
The Jazz got bigger during the offseason, adding Al Jefferson in a trade with Minnesota and signing free-agent center Francisco Elson.
Still, Utah could use a break-out season from center Kyrylo Fesenko, especially because Memo Okur remains sidelined after Achilles' surgery last April.
Is Fesenko ready for an increased role?
"You have to look at his progress over the last three or four years," Sloan said. "It hasn't been as dramatic as we'd like for it to be. But he's a better basketball player now."
Asked for specifics, Sloan said, "His concentration is better, but that doesn't mean he's on top of the world. He's got to continue to work at that. That's been a nemesis for him, when he's lost his concentration and hasn't been able to focus as hard as you'd like."
The Jazz continue to be intrigued by Fesenko's physical ability, but Sloan said, "If players can't get their focus and concentration, it's hard to have success."
According to Sloan, Fesenko can't be impacted if he doesn't get the amount if playing time he would prefer.
"He has to stay ready to play," Sloan said. "If he's going to sit and pout, then he's not going to be ready to play."
No report cards
As the Jazz begin the preseason, Sloan was asked Wednesday to "grade" his team's progress so far.
"I don't like report cards because you flunk sometimes," he said. "I never did like that A, B, C, D [stuff]."
Jazz games in Spanish
The Jazz will broadcast all of their regular season home and playoff games in Spanish on 1600 AM.
Portland at Jazz
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • 7 p.m.
Radio • 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM
Records • Blazers 1-0, Jazz 0-0
Last meeting • Jazz, 93-89, OT (Feb. 21)
About the Jazz • First preseason game for Utah. â¦ Jazz debut of Al Jefferson, Earl Watson, Gordon Hayward; return of Raja Bell. â¦ Utah is still settling on a starting lineup. Jefferson (center) and Deron Williams (point guard) are only set starters.
About the Blazers • Portland won its preseason debut Tuesday, defeating the Clippers 115-86. â¦ Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge still lead the Blazers. But addition of Wesley Matthews (game-high 20 points) and maturation of Nicolas Batum has intensified a strong Portland defense. â¦ Starting center Marcus Camby (groin) did not play against the Clippers.
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