Jazz notebook: Injuries start to hit team

Los Angeles ? Following a week of two-a-day practices and the

conclusion of training camp,

Jazz coaches said the best thing

about Utah’s progress was the fact that no players had been

hurt.

That is not the case anymore.

The

Jazz sat out four players Sunday

against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Guard Deron

Williams (calf), forward Jeremy Evans (flu), and centers Mehmet

Okur (Achilles tendon) and Francisco Elson (hamstring) did not take

the court.

Okur and Williams were expected to be out of action, while Elson

was a game-time decision who was held back as a precautionary

measure.

“Since he’s been out a good period of time, I don’t think a

shootaround is adequate enough to see where he is,”

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “I’ll

have to see him practice, which we’ll do [Monday].”

Elson has yet to play a preseason game for Utah. He strained his

right hamstring Oct. 7 during a shootaround, prior to the

Jazz’s exhibition opener versus

Portland.

Meanwhile, Evans was a late scratch. The Utah rookie forward was

averaging 8.0 points , ranked third on the team in rebounds (5.4)

and was shooting a team-high 75 percent from the floor heading into

Sunday’s contest.

“He’s made a lot of good improvements since he came here. And I

think everybody on the team is pulling for him,” Sloan said. “He’s

a wonderful guy. No BS in him at all. He just comes and does his

job, and doesn’t change his personality a bit.”

But the normally upbeat Evans was slumped down in a chair near

his locker about an hour before tipoff. He spoke quietly, struggled

to answer questions and kept his hands over his stomach. Minutes

later, it was announced that the former Western Kentucky standout

was dealing with flu-like symptoms and would not receive a green

light.

“He [looked] like death warmed over in there,” Sloan said.

?

Good to go

While four

Jazz players sat out Sunday, center

Kyrylo Fesenko returned to action.

Fesenko had been dealing with a sprained right wrist he suffered

Thursday against Phoenix. He missed Utah’s win Saturday over the

Los Angeles Clippers due to the injury. But Fesenko said during a

Sunday morning shootaround he was encouraged by his progress, and

he was cleared for activity versus the Lakers.

“I feel good,” Fesenko said. “There’s no pain.”

Fesenko’s return bolstered Utah’s depth at the center position.

With Elson and Okur out, Fesenko and Al Jefferson are the

Jazz’s only healthy big men.

Different view

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the

Jazz could become a better team this

season than the 53-win squad from 2009-10.

Despite Utah’s loss of Carlos Boozer , Wesley Matthews and Kyle

Korver , Jackson sees potential in a

Jazz franchise that added

Jefferson, Raja Bell and Earl Watson during the offseason.

“They’ve helped themselves with some additional talent,” Jackson

said.

Jackson described Jefferson as a “scorer” who will likely be

backed up by a proven, talented veteran in Okur.

“They can play them 4 and 5 together, probably,” Jackson

said.

The Lakers coach also praised the play of

Jazz forward Paul Millsap , stating

that Utah’s projected starting power forward has performed very

well in a backup role the past two seasons.

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bsmith@sltrib.com

Twitter: tribjazz

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Jazz Notes blog at

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analysis. Alt Heads:

Injuries starting to hit once-healthy

Jazz Tuesday’s game

Jazz at Lakers, 8 p.m.