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Jazz notes: Millsap expects to play against Houston

Published March 21, 2011 6:01 pm

Jazz notes • Antsy forward tests knee, says he is feeling good.
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Just in time for two games critical to the Jazz's playoff hopes, Paul Millsap expects to play Sunday at Houston.

Millsap's availability officially is listed as a "game-time decision," but a three-day break in the schedule gave him an opportunity to test his sore knee in practice.

"… I had a chance run on it and, right now, it's feeling pretty good," he said.

"You get real antsy, sitting out that long. You just want to get back out there with the team and try to win."

According to coach Tyrone Corbin, Millsap will start if he can play. Derrick Favors will come off the bench.

Millsap "… is a veteran guy who's been around," Corbin said. "The guys know who he is and have a comfort level with him."

Utah's second-leading scorer (16.9) and rebounder (7.8), Millsap has not played since March 7.

Still up in the air

Like Millsap, the availability of five other Jazz players will be game-time decisions at Houston.

The group includes Andrei Kirilenko (back), Devin Harris (hamstring), Raja Bell (toe), Francisco Elson (ankle, knee) and Ronnie Price (toe).

Millsap, Harris, Elson and Price practiced Saturday morning.

Kirilenko and Bell participated, but on a limited basis.

"We're starting to get healthy," Corbin said. "Now we just need to go play well."

Critical games?

Houston trails ninth-place Utah by one-half game in the Western Conference standings.

After playing the Rockets, the Jazz visit eighth-place Memphis on Monday.

"It's a challenge to us — it's a challenge to our team," Millsap said. "But a lot of guys are ready to take on that challenge. It's really going to show where we're at."

Said Corbin: "They are huge games — the importance of them. … We have to be focused from the beginning of the game on playing Jazz basketball."

Start him up

It appears C.J. Miles'40-point performance in Wednesday's 119-104 win over Minnesota cemented his spot in the starting lineup.

"He's come along pretty good," said Corbin. "The team has kind of rallied around how he's playing and it gives is another guy [opponents] have to pay close attention. …

" As long as things go well and we can keep getting good production off the bench, we'll probably stay the way we are."

About to get busy

Including Houston and Memphis, the Jazz play five games in the next seven nights against top-10 teams in the West.

That's why Corbin welcomed the break in the schedule: "It came at a great time for us — to get our minds clear, to focus on things we need to improve, to work on things as a group and to expand what we can do in the game. It really helped guys get comfortable with things. A great couple of days."

luhm@sltrib.com