This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Posted: 11:59 AM- HOUSTON - Andrei Kirilenko essentially apologized Monday for his teary and frustrated complaint about his playing time during Game 1 of the the Jazz's first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, though he did not say so specifically.
Kirilenko said he made statements that "I don't think I should have made," at the morning shootaround before Game 2 tonight at the Toyota Center. "I don't think it's good for the team, but we need to win tonight so we're going to play hard."
The former all-star forward had nearly broken down after practice Sunday while discussing his minimal role in the Jazz's 84-75 loss, dabbing tears from his eyes with a towel while coaches and teammates watched warily from a distance.
But when reporters were allowed into the Jazz's shootaround before Game 2, Kirilenko was back to his usual self - bright-eyed and smiling, and praising his teammates for helping him work through his frustration.
"We have great teammates, we're helping each other," he said. "So we're trying to support everybody, and everybody's trying to support me."
Coach Jerry Sloan and Kirilenko both said they did not speak much about the incident - "a little bit," Kirilenko said - and Sloan said he still plans to start Kirilenko against the Rockets tonight.
"I probably haven't gotten him in a position where he's as comfortable as he would like to be," Sloan said. "Our job is still to win. . . . Nobody wants to see him play any better and play well than I do. I'm sure his teammates would feel the same way. We all want to try to solve people's problems, but I'm not qualified to solve those problems."
Kirilenko played only 16 minutes in Game 1 of the series, continuing a season-long clash with Sloan about how he should be used. Given the chance, however, Kirilenko did not repeat his desire for more playing time.
"Again, it doesn't matter how many times I am on the floor, I will try to win the game," he said. "I will try to be, you know, the best that I can."
Many of his teammates offered words of encouragement after the startling display Sunday, and hope he will be ready for Game 2.
"AK's fine," forward Carlos Boozer said. "We talked to him yesterday. Sometimes, you have to get some things out. He got what he had to get out, and now he's ready to move forward and he's ready to play. I went up to him on the bus and told him, 'Look, man, you're our X-factor. We need you. We need you more than anybody.' He basically said thank you. I told him I loved him. . . we just basically pumped him up and told him that this team can be great with you."
Asked if the Jazz can beat the Rockets without a greater contribution from Kirilenko, Boozer hesitated a moment.
"I don't think so," he said.