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News » Jazz: Matthews ready for Bryant

Jazz: Matthews ready for Bryant

Jazz: Matthews ready 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 has "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 defensive 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 this season 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 game.

"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing," Matthews said. "You know, locking in to 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.

The Jazz were a little thin at practice on a snowy Tuesday morning. Kirilenko went for an MRI exam on his strained back, Deron Williams was excused for personal reasons and Kyrylo Fesenko went home with a stomach virus. Alt Heads:

Matthews ready for Bryant

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Added: December 9, 2009


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