Kirilenko plans to play in Game 3
LOS ANGELES -- Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said barring any unforeseen setbacks he plans to play in Game 3 of Utah's Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
"I feel good," said Kirilenko. "I think it's a very good break and those extra four days will definitely help prepare me better."
Kirilenko, who went through a full practice on Monday and was active in Tuesday morning's shootaround, hasn't played a full game since straining his left calf March 12. He aggravated the injury last month.
"I'm still slow on the lay-ups when I'm trying to finish them because it's the jumping leg but it's getting better," said Kirilenko, who averaged 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 58 games this season.
"I was talking with the coaches and doctors and I've been pushing them to let me come back but they've been smart. They told me I wasn't going to play many minutes if I came back [Game 2] and they would rather me wait three-four more days so I could be more ready and get more minutes in Game 3."
Kirilenko said he's been frustrated watching the team play from the sideline but believes his presence will make a difference now that the series heads back to Utah for Games 3 and 4.
"If you take a look at what I've done, everything I can bring to the table would be valuable against the Lakers," he said. "On the offensive effort and the defensive effort I can be able to help out Saturday night. I can help out and close out those layups the Lakers have been getting. I can help out on Kobe [Bryant] in crunch time at the end of games. He's a great player and he can finish against anybody and it's not that I can stop him alone but I have good experience playing against him and I can do a better job on him I think."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.