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News » Jazz: Matthews prepared for Bryant

Jazz: Matthews prepared for Bryant

Jazz: Matthews prepared for Bryant No introductions will be necessary from Wesley Matthews ' perspective if and when the undrafted rookie from Marquette with the burgeoning reputation for his defense matches up tonight against Kobe Bryant .

"I'm ready for whatever," Matthews said before practice Tuesday. "I'm excited about the opportunity to be able to go against the greatest to ever play this game."

"He was the guy to watch growing up," Matthews added. "I admire a lot of the things he does -- everything he does -- but when we step on that court, he wants to win just as bad as I do."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said no decisions have been made, but it seems likely his team will open tonight with Ronnie Brewer on Ron Artest and Matthews trying to slow Bryant, the NBA's 2008 MVP and current No. 2-leading scorer, averaging 28.9 points.

"He's not afraid to try to guard anybody," Sloan said of Matthews. "[It's] really been pretty refreshing to us to have a guy that is a rookie and is not afraid to compete like he has."

Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko have drawn the primary assignment on Bryant in previous seasons. For his part, Sloan said he would not be reluctant to play a rookie in Matthews against Bryant, with so many offensive tricks in his bag.

"That's how you learn to play," Sloan said. "You play Kobe or you play whoever else is out there and do the best you can, put it all out there and go home and try to learn something from it so you can be better the next time. I think he's tried to do that."

Matthews consistently has been the Jazz's top-graded defender and has enjoyed success against Brandon Roy , Danny Granger and Manu Ginobili in recent games. Ginobili had just five points on 2-for-7 shooting in Monday's victory.

"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing," Matthews said. "You know, locking into what they like to do and relying on my teammates. My teammates are there helping me out. It's not just me out there on an island by myself."

Matthews, whose father, Wes , played on back-to-back Lakers championship teams in the 1980s, has started 12 consecutive games for the Jazz , averaging 9.8 points in that time.


Injury report

Neither Kirilenko nor Kyrylo Fesenko made the trip to Los Angeles. Kirilenko missed practice Tuesday and went for an MRI exam on the strained back that will keep him out of a third consecutive game tonight. Results were "unchanged," according to the team.

Fesenko is suffering from a stomach virus and hasn't played in three games since scoring a season-high 11 points Nov. 30 against Memphis. Deron Williams was excused from practice for personal reasons but did travel.



As the NBA's second-longest tenured coach, San Antonio' s Gregg Popovich was amused by last week's news that Sloan had agreed to a one-year extension to return for the 2010-11 season, his 23rd in Utah.

"My question is: Why doesn't he sign them five at a time, because he never leaves," Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News . "He signs every year, like we're in suspense. We know he's going to stay there.

"I hope he coaches there forever. He's great for the league, a fantastic coach. His teams are tough and good every single year. If he wasn't in the league, it would lose part of its personality.

"I just love his consistency. It doesn't matter if it's Joe Blow or Karl Malone on the floor. They all react and execute the exact same way. That's a credit to him." Jazz at L.A. Lakers

At Staples Center

Time ? 8:30 p.m.

TV/Radio ? FSN Utah, 1320 AM, 98.7 FM

Records ? Jazz 12-8; Lakers 16-3

Last meeting ? Jazz lost 125-112 on April 14

Line ? Lakers by 11

About the Jazz ? The Jazz have won eight of their last 10 games but would like to improve on their 3-5 road record, especially after Saturday's loss in Minnesota . . . . Carlos Boozer has scored 21 points or more in the Jazz's last eight games (averaging 26.1 points and 10.3 rebounds) and was named Western Conference Player of the Week . . . The Jazz will wear their green throwback uniforms tonight.

About the Lakers ? The Lakers are 8-0 since Pau Gasol returned from a hamstring injury, with an average margin of victory of 15.6 points. Since Gasol's arrival in a February 2008 trade with Memphis, the Lakers are 94-22 with him in the lineup. . . .Ron Artest is averaging 12.4 points in his first season with the Lakers while Andrew Bynum is posting the best numbers of his young career (18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds).

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Added: December 9, 2009


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