Portland, Ore. • Jazz reserve center Kyrylo Fesenko has his own opinions. But he said he always respects the decisions made by Utah's coaching staff when it comes to who takes the court when.
"I just try to not let it get into my head," said Fesenko, prior to the Jazz's 103-94 victory against the Blazers on Saturday night. "Just try and be a player and not be a coach."
Fesenko has played just 5 minutes during Utah's last four games, including a 1-minute outing during a Jazz loss Friday to San Antonio and two games he did not play due to coach's decision. Utah has gone 2-2 during the stretch, but the team has been outrebounded by a combined 190-147.
Jazz acting coach Phil Johnson said Friday that the team's struggles on the boards played the primary role in Utah's defeat to the Spurs. Utah was then outrebounded 48-38 by the Blazers, including a 24-6 deficit on the offensive glass.
"Obviously, it sucks because it's a big issue," Fesenko said. "But coach knows better."
Johnson acknowledged that it was tough not playing Fesenko versus the Spurs. But with fellow reserve center Francisco Elson playing strong defense, Johnson said he was forced to limit Fesenko's minutes.
"We didn't go to Fes [on Friday]," Johnson said. "But he's there."
Utah continued to go with Elson versus the Blazers. He recorded four points in 8:33, while Fesenko did not take the court.
Deron Williams started against the Blazers despite dealing with a sore right foot. He appeared to suffer the injury late in the first quarter Friday against San Antonio, and walked with a limp in the locker room following the game. After the win over Portland, Williams said he was "banged up." However, he added that he will play through the pain.
Ex-Jazz and current Blazers guard Wesley Matthews said that he has kept in touch with many of his former teammates, including Paul Millsap, Ronnie Price, C.J. Miles and Williams. But with Matthews now wearing black and red following an impressive rookie season, he acknowledged that friends only go so far once the game starts.
"We're going to be enemies out there," said Matthews, who scored 16 points in a loss.