Utah's Kirilenko upset after Game 1 benching
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."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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