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Jazz unable to move forward

May 17, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY -- There were two eliminations that confronted Utah's Andrei Kirilenko, both coming to a head:

* The Jazz faced a playoff ousting Friday, down 3-2 against the Lakers.

* Time was running out to tidy up plans for an approaching summer vacation and obtain travel visas for his family.

Hmm . . .

Kirilenko, from Russia, chose the latter. And now, he will have plenty of planning time.

Kirilenko's day off, in which he missed the Jazz's practice before Game 6 to fly to a San Francisco embassy, was the topic of discussion at Friday's shoot-around.

Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan sought to defuse the situation before taking a question from the media, conceding that the two had a misunderstanding and taking the blame for his absentee forward.

"I don't think you should be upset at him," Sloan said. "You should be upset with me if you have a problem with it.

"I take responsibility for it. I didn't do a very good job of communicating with him. That's it. Said and done."

Not quite, with the media next shifting to Kirilenko.

Mixed priorities?

A distraction at a crucial time?

Letting his teammates down?

None of the above, according to Kirilenko, who also chalked it up as wires crossed.

Kirilenko said he thought the Jazz would practice at 10 a.m. on Thursday, providing him with enough time to fly to a San Francisco embassy afterward.

Instead, Utah took the court an hour and a half later with Kirilenko on a plane to obtain visas for his family's trip to France over the summer.

"I'm a citizen of [a] foreign country," he said. "Sometimes, I have an issue with visas, paperwork. So, [Thursday] an appointment with the embassy came up. So, I asked coach and right now we figured out it was a little misunderstanding.

"In the embassy, they have certain rules . . . it was pretty tough to move it."

Smiling while answering questions, Kirilenko said it was only an issue if that's what the media made it out to be.

Said teammate Carlos Boozer: "We had a conversation as a team. We knew he had to take care of some business."

Kirilenko scored his first points midway through the second quarter and ended with 12 points, shooting four for 10. He did, however, make two clutch three-point shots late in the game.

And the Jazz missed Boozer's scoring punch in Game 6.

He finished with only 12 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out late.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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