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News » AK full of vigor in his return

AK full of vigor in his return

AK full of vigor in his return Los Angeles ? It could take another couple of weeks before Andrei Kirilenko can enjoy having his entire family at home under one roof in Utah, including his new 2-month-old adopted daughter Alexandra -- Sasha for short.

In the meantime, the Jazz only can hope the joy and relief on full display for Kirilenko in Sunday's 110-103 preseason victory over the Charlotte Bobcats will help carry him through on the court.

Having flown to Russia and back in the span of four days to complete the adoption, Kirilenko poured himself into the action at Staples Center, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes.

"I was surprised at Andrei's activity," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He had a long last two or three days, you know? That's one of his better exhibition games, where he shot the ball, ran the floor a lot better. It looked like he had a lot more energy."

Consider Deron Williams more than impressed as well. "I thought he was going to be dead out there," Williams said. "But he came out, hit the first couple shots and got into a good rhythm and played really good."

Kirilenko summed up the week's events in a single word: "Hard." He never before had appeared in a courtroom, yet had to stand with his wife, Masha, before a judge for 15 minutes to finalize the adoption.

"For half-a-year we've been on the phone, we've been in a state of ready-to-go," Kirilenko said.

As deliberate as the process was, with the Kirilenkos having to submit medical records and even meet with psychologists, the family had little time to welcome their newest member before Kirilenko had to leave to rejoin the Jazz for Sunday's game.

He arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday night and was back on the court less than 24 hours later. Kirilenko's wife will remain in Russia for what he described as "another chapter" of obtaining passports and visas for Alexandra.

"We look forward to welcoming her to Salt Lake City, to our family," Carlos Boozer said. "It's a beautiful thing, man. They're trying to help a kid's life and give them a different life to lead."

Kirilenko said he and his wife had started to consider adoption after their youngest son was born two years ago. They started the process in February, leaving Kirilenko unable to commit to playing for Russia at this summer's European championships.

They met Alexandra for the first time a month ago, but had to appear in person in court to make the adoption official. Kirilenko received the blessing of Sloan and general manager Kevin O'Connor and left the team Wednesday, missing two games.

Even some family members didn't know how close they were to adopting Alexandra, Kirilenko said. The Jazz deferred to Kirilenko in not publicly announcing the reason for his return to Russia.

"It takes us like half a year, so we don't want to kind of put it in jeopardy," Kirilenko said.

With his Kirilenko's Kids foundation having worked with Russian orphanages in the past, Kirilenko said of the decision to adopt: "I think some of the inspiration definitely connected."

As for the game, Kirilenko said he might have been more focused because he was so concerned about running out of gas. He started quickly, hitting a 20-footer from the left side only 23 seconds into the game.

"I took probably like a couple seconds [thinking] 'Don't leave it short,'" Kirilenko said.

That set the stage for a 10-point quarter out of Kirilenko, who shoveled one pass to Boozer for a layup and whipped a care-free behind-the-back pass to Boozer for another. He got open for a dunk, slapped away a pass on defense and blocked Stephen Graham on a drive.

Kirilenko hit 5 of 7 shots, including a 19-footer with 1:25 left in the first half as he was almost run over by Charlotte's Derrick Brown.

The Jazz will wait and see how long it takes Kirilenko to recover from what has been a whirlwind month. With the team traveling to Europe in the preseason, Kirilenko has made five transoceanic trips in the last three weeks.

Kirilenko said his experience with international travel should help him, but admitted: "Right now, I'm a little bit funny, feel funny, but again I have to start running a little bit, shooting, getting in physical shape."

? In short

Andrei Kirilenko rejoins the Jazz and finishes with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 20, 2009


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