Jazz PG Deron Williams returns to lineup
Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams is back in the lineup to face the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
Williams had missed four straight games after straining a tendon in his right wrist against San Antonio on Jan. 26. He returns to a team that had lost eight of 10 games heading into its showdown with the Nuggets.
Still out for the Jazz, however, were forward Andrei Kirilenko, whose sprained left ankle prevented him from being matched up against Nuggets All-Star Carmelo Anthony; and center Mehmet Okur, who didn't make the trip because of a strained lower back.
Williams is averaging 21.9 points and 9.4 assists.
''Hopefully it means a lot because he scores about 20 points a game, about 10 assists. That would help any team,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Williams' return to the lineup. ''If we're trying to push the ball or get in a halfcourt set that's what he does. He's in control of that.''
Williams was picked for his second straight All-Star game on Thursday.
''It's a great honor, but it doesn't make or break me,'' Williams said after shootaround Friday. ''I wouldn't have been affected either way. I made it once and that's enough for me. I just want to start winning again, and get some wins in the W column.''
Nuggets coach George Karl announced before tip-off that he would no longer platoon big men Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen on back-to-back nights, although their minutes will still be monitored. Both are easing their way back after offseason knee surgeries and Andersen has also been dealing with a bad back.
Karl also said he was disappointed that Nene was bypassed in favor of Kevin Love when Commissioner David Stern picked an All-Star injury replacement for Houston center Yao Ming. Love entered play Friday averaging 21.4 points and 15.5 rebounds, compared to Nene's averages of 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds.
''He's not going to have the spectacular numbers of some of these other guys because he's so unselfish,'' Karl said of his center.