Status of UCLA's Tony Parker for Utah game is uncertain

Status of UCLA's Tony Parker for Utah game is uncertain
It's uncertain if UCLA center Tony Parker will play on Thursday against Utah. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Tony Parker jogged stiffly onto the court for UCLA's basketball practice Tuesday after his teammates had begun stretching.

"Back from retirement," Bryce Alford said jokingly as Parker took a place near the baseline.


Parker rolled his eyes.

Parker's availability for Thursday's game against 11th-ranked Utah is uncertain, but he participated in noncontact drills for the first time since back spasms sidelined him 10 days earlier. Coach Steve Alford said Parker's status was day to day.

"Hopefully, we can get him back to some level in these two home games," Alford said. "We don't know yet."

Alford called the three-game stretch before the injury the best of Parker's career. In the two games without the junior center, UCLA lost to Oregon State and Oregon by a combined 29 points.

Trainers indicated Parker's back is improving, Alford said. In practice Tuesday, Parker avoided stretches that would twist his back, and he pedaled a stationary bike during contact drills.

"My biggest concern with Tony would be conditioning," Alford said. "But he looks good."

Part way back

There was a new face at UCLA practice this week, a 6-foot-10 and 215-pound wing who glided through drills. Jonah Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA and won't play this season, but as of Monday he was cleared to practice and participate in team activities.

Bolden was a highly regarded recruit who has the size to play power forward and the skill to play guard. ranked him as high as No. 25 in his recruiting class.

His presence would've added depth and versatility to a roster devoid of both. For example, shooting guard Isaac Hamilton has made only one of his last 17 shots, but Alford has little choice but to keep him in the lineup.

With Bolden playing the wing, that would have allowed Alford to bump Norman Powell to shooting guard to give Hamilton some relief.

UCLA will have to wait until next season for Bolden.

Asked whether he might bolt for the NBA draft before then, Bolden said, "Most definitely my goal is to get to the NBA, but my main priority right now is here at UCLA."

On the level

At this point last season, USC picked up a victory against California in its 19th game. It was the Trojans' first Pac-12 Conference victory, and their record improved to 10-9 overall.

With a wave of young talent, Coach Andy Enfield had hoped there would be progress this season. But 19 games in, USC has only one Pac-12 victory — again over Cal. And the Trojans' overall record, 9-10, is one game worse.

Attendance is also lagging. USC's average home attendance of 3,548 ranks next to last in the Pac-12, ahead of Washington State. That would be USC's lowest attendance level since the Galen Center opened in 2006.

UCLA tonight


When: 7.

Where: Pauley Pavilion.

On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: 570.

Records: UCLA 11-9, 3-4 in the Pac-12; Utah 16-3, 6-1.

Update: Even at full strength, the Bruins' trip to Salt Lake City this month was a nightmare. They lost to Utah, 71-39. They shot five air balls. They were outrebounded, 42-28. Bryce Alford took 10 shots and didn't make one. This time, the Bruins might be without Tony Parker, who is suffering from back spasms and whose status is uncertain. Utah ranks sixth in the nation in field-goal percentage (49.9%). The Utes' three-point percentage (41.7%) is just two-tenths of a percentage worse than UCLA's overall field-goal percentage.

USC tonight


When: 6:30.

Where: Galen Center.

On the air: TV: Fox Sports 1. Radio: 690.

Records: USC 9-10, 1-6 in the Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 10-9, 3-4.

Update: USC has lost six of its last seven games, including a 59-55 defeat at Oregon State on Saturday that extended the Trojans' losing streak to four. Colorado routed USC, 86-65, on Jan. 4 at Boulder, Colo.; the Trojans were without point guard Jordan McLaughlin in that game because of a shoulder injury. McLaughlin returned two games later and is averaging 12.4 points.

—Gary Klein