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Jazz activate rookie guard Owens

In years past, players placed on the NBA's so-called injured list were required to stay on it for at least five games.

That list, however, was eliminated as part of the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players association.

Now, the Jazz and other NBA teams have until one hour before tipoff to decide which 12 players will be on their active roster for each individual game and which of the rest (they're allowed to carry up to 15) will be made inactive.

As a result, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has more decisions than ever to make these days.

"I don't know how we'll work that out all year long," Sloan said Saturday night. "I don't like the idea of having to make the decision on those things every day, you know?"

On Saturday, prior to the Jazz's Delta Center game against Phoenix, Sloan made a change for the first time since the season started.

After serving a two-game unpaid suspension for throwing a punch in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers, rookie big Robert Whaley was eligible to against the Suns. Instead of keeping him on their 12-man active roster, though, Utah opted to make Whaley inactive and instead activated undrafted rookie free-agent guard Andre Owens.

Owens, however, did not make it into the game.

Joining Whaley on the inactive list were power forward Carlos Boozer, who missed a third straight game due to a strained left hamstring, and healthy 18-year-old shooting guard C.J. Miles, who has not yet played in his first NBA game.

OSTERTAG INJURED: Jazz starting center Greg Ostertag exited after pulling down a rebound just one minute and 17 seconds into Saturday's loss to the Suns, and did not return.

The Jazz would only say that Ostertag had injured his right knee, and that an MRI exam is scheduled for this morning.

It is not known if Ostertag will accompany the team on its upcoming four-game road trip.

BOOZER'S BUDDIES: Boozer has purchased 50 tickets to all Jazz home games this season and will make them available to organized youth groups throughout Utah.

Tickets will be distributed upon written request, which can be submitted to Boozer's Buddies; c/o Utah Jazz Community Relations; 301 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah; 84101.

NO RESPECT: A list of the NBA's "most underrated stars" compiled recently by SI.com includes one Jazz player, forward Andrei Kirilenko.

Also on the 16-player list: Atlanta's Al Harrington, Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, Cleveland's Drew Gooden, Detroit's Tayshuan Prince, Indiana's Jeff Foster, Toronto's Chris Bosh, Miami's Udonis Haslem, Washington's Caron Butler, Dallas' Josh Howard, Denver's Marcus Camby, Golden State's Jason Richardson, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix's Shawn Marion and Seattle's Rashard Lewis.

FOXSports.com, meanwhile, has its list of the league's "most underrated player" and Jazz forward Matt Harpring tops the chart.

"Not even Ron Artest," Fox contributor Charley Rosen wrote recently, "plays more aggressively than Harpring does =97 both with and without the ball."

Former Jazz swingman Raja Bell, who had just four points on 2-of-8 shooting for Phoenix on Saturday, was third on Rosen's list.

HE SAID IT: Sloan, on passing Bill Fitch and moving alone into fifth place on the NBA's all-time coaching victories by notching No. 945 Friday night at Golden State: "I don't look at things like that as being important. What is important is having great players, and I've been really lucky."

OLDER, WISER: Jazz point guard Keith McLeod turned 26 Saturday.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com