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Los Angeles » Taking the advice of the Jazz's trainers and doctors, Andrei Kirilenko opted Tuesday to delay his return from a strained left calf until Saturday's Game 3 against the Lakers, which affords him three more days to get up to speed.
Kirilenko tested his calf by playing 2-on-2 practice Monday, but said he was advised that since he only would be cleared to play limited minutes Tuesday, he might as well wait for Game 3 and the chance to play what he called "good time."
"Everything's really like better than expected," Kirilenko said. "Those three, four days extra, they think it's going to help out a lot."
Kirilenko still has some concerns about jumping and moving on defense but otherwise is close to returning. He hasn't played in a full game since originally injuring his calf March 12 in Milwaukee and has suffered three setbacks trying to return since.
He was asked about the difficulty of deciding to sit out a playoff game after missing so much time already. "I'm trying to take it positive," Kirilenko said. "I'm trying to get ready for Saturday's game right now. My mind's trying to get better and better."
Kirilenko has missed 23 of the Jazz's last 25 games, with Deron Williams describing it as feeling like "forever" since he last was able to play.
"We have three days off, so it's going to be good for him to get his conditioning up, get a real practice in," Williams said. "All he's done is play 2-on-2 one day. It's kind of hard to miss a month and then be thrown into a playoff game."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said his team prepared as if Kirilenko would not return for Game 2: "We kind of thought it would make since to have those few extra days at home court to get out and play on, especially when you've been off as long as he's been off."