Jazz hope to have Okur, Kirilenko back

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mehmet Okur says he's probable and teammate Andrei Kirilenko is hopeful to be back in Utah's lineup for the end of the regular season.

The injured starters' status is more certain than where the Jazz will be seeded in the Western Conference playoffs. Utah can finish as high as second or as low as fifth as the logjam in the standings is sorted out over the next few days.

"It's really kind of interesting. that's what makes it fun for everybody," coach Jerry Sloan said before Monday's practice. "You'd like for it to fall out in your favor, but we've still got to play a couple of tough games."

Utah plays at Golden State on Tuesday night, then hosts Phoenix on Wednesday in the regular season finale. If the Jazz win both, they will open the first round of the playoffs at home regardless of anything else that happens this week.

And losses by Dallas and-or Denver could also help Utah's seed, but only if the Jazz win.

"It's going to be really crazy," Okur said. "I try not to look at the standings right now."

If the Jazz lose either or both games this week, their postseason destination for the weekend will depend on the rest of the West.

Sloan, about to take Utah to the playoffs for the 19th time in his 22 seasons coaching the club, won't be looking at the other teams' schedules between now and Wednesday.

"I don't need that aggravation," he said. "All I've got to worry about is get these guys ready to play."

Okur practiced for the second day in a row Monday after nursing a strained left Achilles tendon last Wednesday in a game at Houston. The Jazz say he's a game-time decision for Tuesday, but Okur says he expects to be playing.

Kirilenko, who has missed 13 of the last 15 games with a strain in his left calf, returned to practice on Sunday, running and shooting but not joining in 5-on-5 drills.

"It was my first practice," he said. "It was really good. I felt good. It's really big progress."

Kirilenko participated in Utah's brief workout Monday and was also going to be a game-time decision when the Jazz play Tuesday in Oakland, Calif.

The Jazz will know by the time they tip off against the Suns at 8:30 p.m. MDT Wednesday what will be at stake for the playoff seedings. The Jazz and Suns were both 52-28 entering the week and Wednesday's game could very well end up determining who gets the 4th seed and who is No. 5.

If the Suns are coming off a win over the Nuggets on Tuesday in Phoenix, Utah could be playing for the Northwest Division title.

Enough variables exist that Sloan doesn't want to consider the possibilities. He said he just wants to get his injured players back into the rotation and win the final two regular season games.

"We'll know who we're playing Thursday morning and go from there," Sloan said. "That's the way we've always done it."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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