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Jazz suffer lost game and lost players in Chicago

Kirilenko and Williams have to come out with ankle injuries

CHICAGO — Andrei Kirilenko exited the United Center on crutches, his sprained right ankle too swollen to get into a sneaker. Early estimate: out 1-to-2 weeks.

Deron Williams hobbled out as well, his right ankle sprained, too. It fit in a dress shoe, though, and no crutches were required.

And the Jazz?

They left Chicago with a limp and whimper Saturday night, falling — despite Mehmet Okur's 17 rebounds and career-high 33 points — 103-98 to the Bulls to finish a four-games-in-six-nights trip that concluded not a bit too soon.

"The story of the night," said Williams, who might have been the lead if it weren't for the tales of woe, "was that we could never get over the hump."

It wasn't enough that the 4-3 Jazz were closing out an Eastern road swing that started last Monday at Charlotte and ended with a 2-2 split, the other loss coming Wednesday at New Jersey. Or that they're in the midst of playing six-of-seven away from the Delta Center, the lone exception being Monday's coming meeting with the New York Knicks. Or that they've now played the second game in a stretch of four over five nights in four different time zones, including Friday's win at Toronto and next Tuesday's visit to Sacramento.

Instead, at the end of a long and sometimes trying week, the Jazz added injury to the insult of a failed comeback bid against the Bulls.

Kirilenko went down in the second minute of the second quarter, rolling his ankle after tossing up a long rainbow jumper and coming down awkwardly on the foot of Chicago's Othella Harrington.

Utah's starting small forward remained on the floor for several moments and left leaning on the suit-coated shoulders of inactive teammates Matt Harpring and Robert Whaley.

Postgame X-rays were negative. Afterward Jazz trainer Gary Briggs said Kirilenko had sustained "a normal ankle sprain" and called him "doubtful" for games early this week.

"It feels not good," Kirilenko said after a length stay in the training room. "It feels bad."

Williams was feeling better, though only a bit.

He went down in the game's final minute, hopping off with the Jazz down 101-96. Asked later if the ankle was OK, Williams said, "We'll know (today)."

Briggs said Williams' sprain was the sort which he battled throughout his career at the University of Illinois, and that the Jazz won't know until Monday if the rookie point guard can play against the Knicks.

"Deron's is more of a chronic thing," Briggs said, "where we're going to address it with more strapping, more frequent changes of shoes."

Williams, meanwhile, did what he could to change the outcome of Saturday's game in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 22,272 — including his coach at Illinois, Bruce Weber, who was at centercourt just before opening tip with an honorary game ball.

Ultimately, though, it was not enough.

Williams — who was greeted with loud applause when he entered off the bench in the first half and even had several fans in the crowd wearing his No. 8 Jazz jersey — came out firing.

He finished with 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field but didn't do much to impress Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

"I thought he searched shots out a little bit more, and got to dribbling the ball a little too much — and was not forceful enough at times," Sloan said. "But that's OK. He's got to learn."

If nothing else, then, Saturday's loss was a lesson in both how to penetrate strong to the basket and how to hold a lead.

"We couldn't stop their penetration," said Okur, who has scored 23 or more points in five of the Jazz's seven games this season.

In fact, Utah couldn't stop the Bulls, period.

Chicago led by as many as 16 in the second quarter and went into the second half up 55-45 after a 32-21 opening quarter.

But the Jazz never could cut that advantage to less than two, primarily because the Bulls seemed to have an answer every time Utah threatened to take the lead.

"They," Sloan said, "made all the big plays when they had to."

Three times in the fourth quarter, Utah did get to within two. Five times in the fourth, it got to within three, the final occasion coming when two free throws from Okur made it 101-98 with 15.2 seconds left.

Jazz guard Milt Palacio nearly made a steal that would have given Utah a chance for a late overtime-forcing trey, but the Bulls kept possession and 21-point team-high scorer Luol Deng sealed Chicago's win by hitting the second of two free throws with 9.5 seconds remaining.

"We," Sloan said, "just kept shooting ourselves in the foot coming down the stretch."

When, that is, the Jazz weren't busy spraining ankles.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com