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Marvin Williams walked through the hallways at EnergySolutions Arena on with a white sneaker on his left foot and a medical boot on his right. After having surgery on his right Achilles over the summer, the Jazz forward expected some setbacks along the way, but the soreness that kept him out of Wednesday's game against the Pacers came at a particularly inopportune time.
"We're kind of getting on a roll right here," he said. "Obviously, I have to sit out so it kind of messes things up a little bit."
The forward's insertion into the starting lineup five games ago (coinciding with guard Trey Burke's debut as a starter) has helped spark a turnaround for the struggling Jazz. After opening the season 1-13, the Jazz had won three of their last four games coming into Wednesday, with Williams averaging better than 12 points and five rebounds a night in that stretch.
"It was great having him back, just the leadership on the court and kind of his basketball IQ out there," Gordon Hayward said. "He makes the game easier for others."
Burke credited Williams ability to space the floor, and his court presence for helping the young team get on track.
"He's one of the guys that's always talking, telling us where we need to be, telling us what we're not doing," the rookie said.
Williams, who said he first started feeling soreness in his heel last week at home against Phoenix, is considered day to day with his injury.
While he said the swelling may be related to his surgery, "it's not my actual Achilles, which is good news," he said.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel admitted it has been harder to scout Burke, who has only played a handful of games at the NBA level, than a veteran.
"It's like the old QB in the NFL rule: the first four weeks he can do whatever he wants, then all of a sudden the film comes out and everybody shuts him down," Vogel said.
The coach, however, doesn't expect Burke to be shut down too often.
"He's a heck of a basketball player," Vogel said. "They've got a bright future here with him leading the way."
Hayward grew up rooting for the Pacers. But now in his fourth season with the Utah Jazz, he says he's "kind of over" the novelty of facing his hometown team.