Los Angeles (32-25) at Utah (37-18)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Salt Lake City, UT
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Feb 26, 2007
  • TV: KCAL, KJZZ
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Utah Jazz could have two starters back in the lineup when they host the suddenly surging Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

All-Star center Mehmet Okur, who missed the last two games with back spasms, and forward Andrei Kirilenko - sidelined one game with a left knee contusion - are listed as probable as Utah (37-18) looks to win three in a row. Los Angeles (32-25) is also looking for its third straight win after losing six straight.

The Jazz hardly missed the pair of injured starters Saturday in a 105-87 victory over the lowly Boston Celtics. Derek Fisher had 21 points, Carlos Boozer added 16 and 10 rebounds, and Deron Williams added 10 assists, but the bench also made a big contribution.

Utah got 50 points from its reserves, including 16 from Gordon Giricek and 15 from Matt Harping.

“I think its very impressive with guys coming in off the bench and guys that are stepping in for injured players. They’re really being effective,” Fisher said. “They’re not just taking space up out there. They’re playing good basketball.”

The Jazz, who are 10 1/2 games up on the second-place Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division, shot 51.3 percent from the floor Saturday and had 30 assists - their highest total in 12 games.

“It’s just another good win for us,” Fisher said after Utah improved to 8-1 in its last nine contests. “It feels good to be playing the way we’re playing right now.”

Having Okur and Kirilenko back should only make the Jazz tougher to beat, especially at home where they are 22-6 and have won six in a row.

Okur is averaging 18.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 53 games. Kirilenko, who has started all 48 games he’s played, averages 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He’s also one steal shy of 600 for his career.

Los Angeles defeated Golden State 102-85 on Sunday. Kobe Bryant, who scored 52 points in a 132-102 win over Utah on Nov. 30 in the teams’ last meeting, had 26 points, as did forward Maurice Evans. Reserve Brian Cook added 11 points as the Lakers used a 33-7 run in the first half to take control.

With forwards Luke Walton (ankle), Kwame Brown (ankle) and Vladimir Radmanovic (shoulder) all injured, Evans has been pressed into the starting lineup the past two games. The 26 points were a career high for the four-year veteran, who averages 8.6 per game.

“Mo had some great opportunities, and he really contributed,” coach Phil Jackson said. “It’s fair to say we’re getting better, but there’s still some room for improvement. We have Mo on our side, and we have to stay with him.”

It’s unsure when Walton or Brown will return, while Radmanovic is expected to be out at least two months. Although they remain short-handed, the Lakers will try to build off their last two wins, which included a 122-96 rout of the Celtics on Friday.

“We have basically our starting frontcourt out, so it’s thinned our bench somewhat,” Bryant said. “The season is all about peaks and valleys. Good teams are going to bounce back from it.”

These teams have split two meetings this season, with each winning at home.

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Monday, Feb 26