By Patrick Oden
February 20, 2009 | SALT LAKE CITY -- Andrei
Kirilenko was back on the court Wednesday night
against the Memphis Grizzlies, less than three
weeks after having surgery on his right ankle
to remove bone fragments. Returning a couple of
weeks sooner than predicted, Kirilenko gave the
Jazz 14 points and 3 steals in 17 minutes of play.
"I'm so tired," Kirilenko said. Having only
expected to play six or seven minutes, Kirilenko
said he was winded but expected to be back in
game shape within a week.
"I wanted to try and spread Andrei's minutes
out," said Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan.
"There's no pain at all," Kirilenko said. "We
don't want to jinx it, as long as it feels good,
no soreness, no pain, I'm going to keep playing."
Jazz point guard Deron Williams said, "He [Kirilenko]
looked great yesterday in practice, he looked
like he hadn't missed any time at all… his energetic
self as usual."
"Today is a triple joy," said Kirilenko, "getting
back from my injury, have a birthday, and win
Although the Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies
117-99, the team wasn't entirely satisfied with
the win. Williams, who had a double-double, said
he was "a little shaky out there."
Sloan said, "We were out there one stretch,
it looked like we had boxing gloves on our hands.
The ball was going everywhere, we couldn' catch
the ball, ball went off our heads."
Kirilenko, who was hit in the face by an errant
pass, remained positive on the eve of his 28th
birthday, grinning as he said, "It's nice to come
back with a victory."
STUFF IT!: Andrei
Kirilenko dunks in the open court follow a fast
which resulted from one of Kirilenko's three steals
on the night. / Photo by Patrick Oden