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Utah's Kirilenko upset after Game 1 benching

4/24/2007 - NBA Andrei Kirilenko Utah Jazz + more

SALT LAKE CITY -- A lack of playing time in Game 1 of the
NBA's Jazz-Rockets series left Utah's highest-paid player in tears. Game 2 in Houston was even worse.

"I want to play 48 minutes," Andrei Kirilenko said Sunday
after practice in Houston. "I want to play and I want to be on the
court."


Kirilenko, who was paid $12.3 million this season, played 16
minutes and scored two points in Utah's 84-75 loss to Houston on
Saturday. On Monday night, Kirilenko was shut out in 18 foul-filled minutes. He missed all three of his shots and had five fouls.


On Sunday, coach Jerry Sloan yanked the Russian from the lineup after he
missed a jump shot from nine feet.


"I know it's very uncomfortable for him. It's very
uncomfortable for me," Sloan said. "I'm not happy with it, but I
don't know how to handle it. I'm not equipped."


Sloan said Kirilenko was playing poorly and the team needed to
keep backup forward Matt Harpring, who scored 14 points, in the
game.


"I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings or anything," Sloan
said. "My job is to win. The way you do that is to have everybody
play hard and play well. We can't do it any other way. We need
Andrei's play. We need him to come and play."