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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When Greg Ostertag left the Delta Center on Saturday, team doctors feared he had torn the cartilage in his right knee.
But when he woke up Sunday, the swelling was gone and so was the pain. An MRI confirmed the good news: No structural damage.
"He had some changes in his knee that you would expect in somebody who has played that long," trainer Gary Briggs said of the 10-year veteran. "But everything else is normal. What he did, probably, is came down with his weight on his knee, made a little turn and probably caught his cartilage on one of those rough spots and caused the pain. Pain triggers a reflex that makes your knee give out, and that's probably what he felt."
If there is no swelling today, Briggs said, Ostertag, who left Saturday's game after only 90 seconds, will practice this morning with the team and could be cleared to play against the Bobcats.
Forward Carlos Boozer will not play, however. The strain in Boozer's right hamstring still lingers, making it likely that the Jazz forward, who has not suited up since Feb. 14, will sit out the entire four-game road trip.
Kris Humphries, still just a fledgling student in the Jazz's pro-basketball classroom, got in trouble Saturday for not doing his homework.
The second-year forward found himself benched for the entire second half against Phoenix, mostly for not embracing Utah's scouting reports on the Suns.
Humphries entered the game in the Delta Center just two minutes after tipoff when Ostertag injured his knee. He played relatively well, hitting a couple of jumpers and tipping in two offensive rebounds. But when the Suns switched to a small lineup for the final three minutes of the quarter, Humphries, who drew the assignment of guarding small forward Boris Diaw, got himself in trouble with Sloan.
The 6-foot-8 Diaw, the Jazz's scouts had reported, can't shoot from beyond 10 feet, so Utah's gameplan spelled out how to defend him: Back off and concentrate on keeping him out of the lane.
Humphries, however, guarded Diaw closely from 20 feet away, and the Suns capitalized. On consecutive possessions, the Phoenix forward took a pass and immediately dribbled past Humphries, producing easy layups each time. The second one was made worse by a foul on Jarron Collins, who shifted into the lane to help.
"He's got to understand who he's guarding," Sloan said by way of evaluating Humphriesą night. "Diaw doesn't shoot out on the floor, but [Humphries] let him take it right to the basket."
The coach seems to suspect that the power forward's difficulties are still rooted in a desire to score above all else. "Kris has got to learn he can't shoot the ball every time he touches it," Sloan said. "He's got to learn to play with other people, because if he shoots every time he catches it, his career is going to be a very selfish one."
It might not include as many minutes as he would like, either. Sloan pulled Humphries from the game at the end of the first quarter, used him again only for the final minute of the half to protect Mehmet Okur from picking up a third foul, then kept him on the bench the rest of the night.
Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin did not travel with the team Sunday. Corbin flew ahead so he could spend the day with his family in Columbia, S.C. He will rejoin the Jazz at shootaround today. . . . The Jazz will become just the second visiting team to play a regular-season game in the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena in downtown Charlotte. The building replaces the aging Charlotte Coliseum on the outskirts of town, and the team hopes it helps beef up attendance; Bobcats crowds ranked 29th last season. . . . Tonight's game, like the other three on this trip, will be televised by FSN Utah, but will not be seen on Comcast cable systems in Salt Lake, Davis and other counties.