This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
By the end of Utah's 110-90 loss to Portland on Monday night, Kurt Thomas was shoving Enes Kanter, grabbing at his jersey, elbowing him and subtly pushing him off while jostling for rebounds.
Call it a giant compliment from Thomas, the oldest player in the NBA, to Kanter, the Jazz rookie who was playing in his first professional game.
Kanter, Utah's lottery pick who many thought wasn't ready for all-out basketball war, certainly surprised in his Jazz debut. He scored six points and shot just 1 for 7 from the field. But his 10 rebounds were attention-grabbing, as was his ability to carve out space and make an impact on both ends.
Hence, Thomas, who has been around for what seems like 30 years, was forced to use his hefty bag of tricks.
"He was throwing everything he had at him," Utah assistant Mike Sanders said. "Kurt definitely had to up his game by the second half."
Kanter may not have made the impact that Derrick Favors did, but he proved that he could play at the NBA level. He proved that he may be ready for minutes this season. Kanter also showed a soft touch in making all four of his free-throw attempts and good footwork in his post moves, although he wasn't able to finish.
The Turkish product has admitted to being nervous in training camp, and the butterflies were churning before he entered the game on Monday night. But talks with Sanders, head coach Ty Corbin and countryman Mehmet Okur did a lot to ease the nerves. By the end of the first half, Kanter had a nice follow on an offensive rebound and had made his presence felt in the lineup.
"I wanted to go out and play hard," Kanter said. "Those guys just told me to go out and play my game. They told me to just go out there and do my thing. I just wanted to do my best."
Millsap likely out
Power forward Paul Millsap had treatment on his right quadricep tendinitis, which kept him out of Utah's loss to Portland on Monday night. Jazz fans shouldn't expect to see him in Wednesday's rematch.
Millsap said that he's likely out for Utah's preseason home opener. He practiced lightly on Tuesday morning, but said he would like to be 100 percent healthy for his return.
"My focus is on the regular season," Millsap said. "I don't want to go out, play, and re-aggravate it. So we just have to be careful."
Millsap went on to say that he could be a game-time decision, although that is an unlikely scenario. He said that he would continue to get treatment and "see how it goes from there."
Although he wasn't specific, Corbin said that changes to the starting lineup for Wednesday should be expected. Corbin wasn't happy with the lack of energy in Monday's defeat. He was, however, encouraged with how hard the bench played.
"The young guys came in and got after it," Corbin said. "We have always been thinking about change. We just have to sit back and see how practice goes."