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Giricek leaves road trip, returns to Salt Lake for MRI

SHARE Giricek leaves road trip, returns to Salt Lake for MRI

BOSTON — Jazz shooting guard Gordan Giricek returned to Salt Lake City from Boston on Thursday to undergo an MRI exam today on a problematic Achilles tendon.

Giricek last season played in 37 games, starting 36. But late last season Giricek missed 42 games with tendinitis in his left Achilles. Now, it's the right Achilles — a thick tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel — that's causing him concern.

Team spokeswoman Cindy Edman said the Jazz won't know more about the injury's extent until after today's exam.

In any event, Giricek is not expected to rejoin the Jazz for the rest of a three-game trip that concludes Saturday at Milwaukee.

The 29-year-old veteran from Croatia played 19 minutes and scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field in Utah's 96-89 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday.

He showed no obvious signs of being hurt while playing but did have his ankle wrapped with a heavy pad that he took off before entering the game.

Giricek accompanied to the team to Boston for tonight's game against the Celtics, but trainer Gary Briggs decided to send him back to Utah on Thursday.

Giricek didn't play in the Jazz's season-opener last week, and afterward coach Jerry Sloan said it was because he had not worked hard enough in practice. Since then, however, he's played at least 16 minutes and scored at least five points in each game, all off the bench.

More recently, Giricek had moved ahead of first-round rookie Ronnie Brewer as first off the bench behind starter C.J. Miles.

SLOW START: In their season's first four games, the Jazz led after the opening quarter each time. They never opened with fewer than 27 points in the first 12 minutes. Their advantage heading into the second quarter, in fact, was never less than five points — and, in the season's second outing, at Phoenix, it was as high as 11.

No wonder the Jazz bemoaned a first period Wednesday in which they scored just 21 and trailed New Jersey by six en route to their first loss.

"It's tough to be on the road against a good team and get down 10, 12, 13 points," forward Matt Harpring said after the Jazz went down by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.

"We can't keep digging ruts and climbing our way out and expect to win every game," point guard Deron Williams added. "Eventually it's gonna catch up with you."

Sloan was surprised his club came out so flat, but seemed to know why.

"They put pressure on us, we turned the ball over trying to get into our offense — and then we kind of got hesitant after that," said Sloan, who chided his team for being "kind of sluggish" bringing the ball up early on. "We didn't have any energy, it seemed like, until later on when we started executing a little bit better and taking shots when they were there rather than just kind of walking up.

"That's a huge concern. Are we gonna just be satisfied, or are we gonna compete for 48 minutes? I don't think we came out with that attitude that we're gonna compete. We were just trying to get through it, it looked to me like. And we aren't good enough to do that, because we don't have the superstar players who can get to the free-throw line.

"Our guys have, I think, played pretty well for the most part," he added. "But they've got a lot to learn we can't come out the way we did."

WELCOME, ROOKIE: Jazz second-round draft choice Paul Millsap, who has played in every game so far this season, got a real welcome to the NBA when asked to guard smaller, quicker Nets star Richard Jefferson in Wednesday's fourth quarter.

The forward from Louisiana Tech held his own.

"Paul did a pretty good of trying to stay out there," Sloan said.

"He came in and gave us a lot of energy defensively, and rebounding-wise," Williams added.

Millsap hardly seemed fazed by the daunting task.

"I'm glad Coach had faith in me to put me out there," he said.

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com