Kirilenko out with ankle sprain; Paul set to practice

Updated: January 28, 2007, 2:07 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jazz starting forward Andrei Kirilenko was inactive for Utah's game against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday after spraining his right ankle the previous night.

Andrei Kirilenko

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan didn't have a prognosis for when Kirilenko might return, although the 6-foot-9 forward did make the trip to Oklahoma City. He missed five games after spraining the same ankle in November, with the Jazz winning all five.

Kirilenko, eighth in the NBA in blocks, was hurt while trying for a block on Denver's Marcus Camby in the second quarter of Utah's 116-111 win Friday night.

Kirilenko, who was chosen to the NBA's all-defensive first team last season, is averaging 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and two blocks per game this season. All are below his averages from last season, when he missed seven games with a sprained right ankle.

He averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 2005-06.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are hoping to get a starter back from a sprained right ankle soon as reigning rookie of the year Chris Paul is expected to return to practice for the Hornets on Tuesday after missing a month with the injury.

 Chris Paul

"He is so eager to get back on the court and just try it. I think that's the biggest thing," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Tuesday we'll have him practice and see how he does."

Paul walked through dribbling drills, weaving back and forth on the Ford Center floor, before the Jazz game. The point guard has been out since Dec. 26, when he came down on Seattle center Johan Petro's foot and suffered a Grade 3 sprain -- the worst possible.

"The thing with him right now that's so crazy is at every shootaround he wants to go five-on-five," Scott said.

Paul was averaging a team-high 18.4 points and nine assists before he was hurt.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press