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Notes following Jazz shootaround Wednesday morning at EnergySolutions Arena.
Utah center Al Jefferson (inflamed right ankle) said he'll play against the Los Angeles Clippers, despite officially being a game-time decision. He went through shootaround, is no longer walking with a limp and coach Tyrone Corbin said he looks much better. Jefferson wore a boot after shootaround but said it was just a precautionary measure.
"Save it all for tonight," he said.
Jefferson added he's mainly dealing with tendinitis in his ankle. As long as he ices it, rests properly and takes his medication, he's not concerned about further injury.
"I got a little practice in [Tuesday] and I felt real good. I didn't feel no [pain]," Jefferson said. "It just took a little while for it to warm up. Once it warmed up, I was moving the way I was supposed to. … It was literally getting better by the minute."
Utah guard Raja Bell (strained right adductor) is out against the Clippers and won't travel with the team Thursday for a road contest at Golden State. Josh Howard will again replace Bell in Utah's staring lineup, with Gordon Hayward sliding down to shooting guard. Devin Harris, Paul Millsap and Jefferson are expected to round out the Jazz's starting five.
Jefferson said the return of Chris Paul makes the Clippers a completely different team.
"Chris Paul make my grandmother and all her sisters better," Jefferson said.
Corbin on an improved Los Angeles team being another good test for Jazz: Absolutely. Fortunately for us it's on our home floor. We feel very good about playing here. This is an improved team from last time we saw them. They've got Chris Paul back and Mo Williams didn't play in the last game and they have a chip on their shoulder. We have to make sure we're ready to come out against these guys right from the beginning.
Clippers improving during second stage of lockout-shortened season: I think so. They have a few new pieces. They have a newfound respect or expectations in that organization and on that team, and they're kind of going into it. They're a good team with a lot of great players on that team, and we have to make sure that we're ready to play against them every night. As they build chemistry, they will get better.
Impact of Paul's return: The way he can orchestrate an offense and the pressure that he put on a defense. Make sure you stay between him and the basket. He can get in the paint and break a defense down, have you collapse. He can find shooters. He can also find guys going to the basket in a crowd.
Defending Blake Griffin: He's an athlete, man, and he's very, very aggressive attacking the basket and high above the rim, so you've got to make sure you stay between he and the basket. You've got to have pressure on the ball so you don't give him good looks, because he does a good job from the weak side. … He and [DeAndre] Jordan both put a lot of pressure on your defense.
Corbin said the Jazz did a good job during a 108-79 home victory Jan. 17 of attacking Griffin early and forcing him to take outside jump shots.
"Paul and the guys did a great job of keeping a body on him at most times when he was close to the basket and making him work hard for everything he get," Corbin said.
Jefferson joked that he jumped out of his chair forgetting he had an injured ankle after watching Griffin dunk over Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins on Monday.
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Brian T. Smith