SALT LAKE CITY — When Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams' left foot came down awkwardly on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love's left foot after a jump shot with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena, it didn't look good.
The sold-out crowd held its collective breath as the Jazz All-Star, in obvious pain, hopped on his right foot past the bench and straight through the tunnel toward the team's locker room.
Williams, himself, didn't think he would return to the game.
But lo and behold, after getting his left ankle re-taped, Williams came back on the court to a hero's welcome with 6:09 left in the second quarter and led the Jazz to a 122-100 victory the rest of the way.
But Williams got even more banged up in the process. Late in the game, Williams suffered a contusion to his already sore left shoulder. He'll have an MRI on his shoulder as a precaution today. That goes along with his injured left ankle, left wrist and back.
"I just need a whole new left side," Williams quipped.
D-Will wasn't the only Jazz player to be injured Wednesday night, either. Starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko left the game two minutes into the third quarter after re-injuring his left calf. He was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and lower leg as he left the arena Wednesday night.
"It's frustrating when it comes back, the same injury," Kirilenko said, who had missed the previous two games.
Also, Utah's starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews suffered a mild sprain to his left knee.
All three players are listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated prior to the Jazz's next game on Friday night in Phoenix against the Suns.
"We're just trying to get healthy," said Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer. "At this point of the season, everybody is banged up."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan agrees. "Every time you look around, somebody else is hurt," said Sloan. "We've cut our practices back to almost nothing, hoping not to tax guys too much and (so they'll be able to) come out and be ready to play. It's always a fine line."
Then again, Sloan knows that the professional brand of basketball is physically straining.
"This is the NBA, this is no pick-up game. You can't do anything about it," said Sloan. "If (Williams) gets banged up, he gets banged up.
That's the nature of this business. You need to fight through it or do what you've got to do."
Jazz forward Kyle Korver is more sympathetic to Williams' plight.
"He's really beat up right now, and he's got a lot of things hurting him," said Korver of Williams. "It probably would've been nice if we could've put (Minnesota) away in the fourth quarter and not given them a couple of threes so he could've stayed out the whole fourth quarter.
But that's what happens when you're the guy and you're the point guard. You're going to get banged up."9 comments on this story
Despite all of his ailments, D-Will threw down a monster, driving dunk in the second half and he finished the game with nine points and 11 assists.
"I knew if I would have gone up weak, I would have gotten it blocked, so I went up strong," said Williams of his dunk.
In the meantime, he's hopeful he'll be able to play Friday night in Arizona.
"Hopefully none (of the injuries) are too serious and everyone will be back soon," Williams said of himself and his hurting teammates. "It's just part of the 82-game season."