A major goal for most players during the eight Utah Jazz preseason games - beginning tonight when the Charlotte Hornets invade the Delta Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off - is simple: "Just don't get hurt."
For some, especially the three players without guaranteed money, the exhibition season takes on more importance."We've got to give these guys every fair look we can because they've spent so much of their lives just getting here," said Jazz owner Larry H. Miller. "We want to give them a fair look, and we want to get as prepared as we can to come into the season to be able to focus on one thing - winning the championship."
Said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, "Hopefully we can play our starters and see how we are doing with them, but we also need to give our younger guys an opportunity to play."
Don't expect Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek to see much action this evening. Greg Dreiling, Jacque Vaughn and Nate Erdmann may get more minutes.
"I've got to do what's best for the team and what's best for the players over the long haul," said Sloan. "If I didn't care what's best for the team, I'd play (Stockton and Malone) 48 minutes during the exhibition season."
That won't happen. Malone says he expects to play about 10 to 15 minutes. He'll ride a stationary bike, run on a treadmill or use a stair climber to make up for the time he spends sitting on the bench.
Shandon Anderson, who had a strong training camp, is looking forward to going up against some new competition tonight. "During the exhibition games you get to see where you are," he said. "It will help me to better evaluate myself. It will be good to play against someone else. We're sick of banging against each other every day."