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Skokie, IL 60076
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CLEVELAND - It wasn't just the black bands wrapped around his knee that was holding Andrei Kirilenko back. It was the way the straps constricted his mental energy that bothered him, too.
Kirilenko shed the flexible knee brace that he had been wearing for a month Sunday, and the difference was remarkable, the Jazz forward said. "I'm basically free right now. I can run, I can jump around and no worry," Kirilenko said.
The worry was a byproduct of the brace, the restrictive device affecting him mentally as well as physically. After spraining a ligament in his right knee Nov. 27, Kirilenko sat out nearly two months, then wore the brace as protection once he returned.
"It got to my mental part of game. It's like, 'be careful, don't hurt yourself,' ” Kirilenko said. "It slowed me down, and I don't like that.
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