12/14/09 - 07:28pm
Before he even made or even took his first shot of the season, Kyle Korver gave the EnergySolutions Arena crowd something to cheer about Monday night.
And all the Utah Jazz sharpshooter had to do to get the loud ovation was step on the floor.
That finally happened for the first time of the 2009-10 campaign with 4:57 remaining in the first quarter when P.A. announcer Dan Roberts welcomed No. 26 onto the court.
(Insert loud screeches here.)
Turned out to be a bittersweet night for Korver and the Jazz, though.
"It was nice to be out on the court again," he said. "But that was a tough loss."
Korver ended up playing 13 minutes off the bench in the disappointing 110-108 loss. He missed all three shots — the first miss snapping a streak of 10 consecutive makes for the then-hot Jazz — and finished with a goose egg in the points column.
But the swingman notched a couple of assists and grabbed a rebound in his debut.
More importantly, Korver's left knee responded well to what he admitted was his first five-on-five basketball experience in about 10 weeks.
Though he's played some one-one-one and participated in a three-on-three scrimmage Sunday, Korver had yet to play in a game-like situation since he logged 14 minutes in a preseason game in Spain on Oct. 8.
Following that, Korver underwent surgery to remove bone spurs and clean up his left knee on Oct. 23.
Since then, he's been rehabilitating the joint back into shape.
Fortunately for Korver's knee, it fared better Monday than the Jazz.
"I was surprised at how good I felt," he said while icing his knee in his locker. "I didn't have any problems at all."
Korver, who dressed Saturday but didn't play, wasn't too rattled that his shots didn't rattle in, either.
His rhythm, timing and complete confidence in his still-mending knee will come with time.
"It was just nice to be out there and not hurt and be able to play a little bit," said Korver, who was inactive the first 22 games. "Obviously I'd like to play better and continue to get a little more time."
That time issue will be a challenge Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has to face in the coming games as Korver and other injured regulars continue to heal up.
The Jazz suddenly have gone from having a very limited number of shooting guards and small forwards to having an overflowing bucket of wings.
Before Monday's game, Sloan admitted he'd like to get the returned Korver, Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Price some playing time. Price didn't play, but Korver and Kirilenko both logged double-digit minutes.
Sloan also knows he might have to be patient as the shooting rust gets knocked off.
"That didn't help us a lot," the coach said, knowing Korver went 0-for-3. "But I've got to try to find minutes for some of these guys to see where they are."
Korver said he'll take the minutes as they come. He's cognizant that Sloan is trying to figure out a new rotation now that C.J. Miles and the rest of the swingmen are back and that rookie Wesley Matthews has worked his way into the mix.
"We've got a lot of guys playing really well," Korver said at shootaround Monday. "I told coach I've got to earn whatever time I get and that's fine. I understand I'll probably play a little bit here and there to start off, try to play well and earn some more time."