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Jazz Notes: Ostertag's time ticking down

Published February 25, 2006 1:24 am

NBA
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Now that Carlos Boozer's hamstring is healed, Greg Ostertag's minutes are hurting.

Ostertag is the first victim of Boozer's return to the lineup, squeezed off the floor as coach Jerry Sloan works the power forward back into his rotation.

In the five games since declaring himself healthy again, Boozer's playing time has gradually increased: six minutes in his debut Feb. 10 in Minnesota, then 12, 14, 24 and, in Utah's victory in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, 30 minutes, including the final 15:23 of the game.

See if you can detect a corresponding pattern in Ostertag's minutes: The veteran center played 25 minutes in the final game before Boozer's return, then 13 against the Timberwolves, followed by 12, six, four, and finally none in Oklahoma - his first healthy did-not-play of the season.

"That's usually the way it works when guys get healthy," Sloan said with a shrug. "We're not going to have enough minutes for everybody. I'm still trying to see how we're going to use Boozer, but it obviously means there are fewer minutes for the big men."

Blame it on reporters

Matt Harpring is happy that the trade deadline has passed, though not so much because it clarifies his own status for the rest of the season. No, Harpring - considerate guy that he is - is pleased for the sportswriters.

"Honestly, you [reporters] are the only ones who ever bring it up. I'm just glad to put it behind us," Harpring said with a laugh Friday, one day after the Jazz discussed, but failed to execute, any deadline-day trades. "I didn't hear anything from anyone from the Jazz; I didn't hear anything from my agent. I never heard a word about a trade - only from the newspapers."

It's a ritual he has gotten used to - "I used to hear rumors when I was with the Sixers, and now I'm 0-for-4 here [in Utah]," he said - and figures that's just the normal lot of a mid-priced veteran.

Briefly

Rookie guard Andre Owens' surgery to have a rod inserted inside his fractured left tibia was a success, the Jazz announced Thursday. He can begin light rehabilitation work within a week to 10 days. . . . With a victory tonight against the Hornets or Monday at Golden State, the Jazz can post a winning record in February for the first time since 2002.

pmiller@sltrib.com