Utah Jazz look to rally behind surgery-bound Mo Williams
SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson got his hopes up when Mo Williams didn't get in touch with him Tuesday afternoon.
"I thought everything went good," Big Al said, "because I didn't hear from him."
The opposite turned out to be the case.
After a second MRI and an evaluation by his hand doctor in New York City, it was determined that Williams needs surgery to repair damage in his right thumb.
The Jazz's usual starting point guard will undergo a procedure on his hand Friday in New York by Dr. Michelle Carlson, who operated on his same thumb in 2008.
Williams will be re-evaluated six weeks after his surgery.
In the meantime, the 10-year veteran will sport a splint on his right hand and will be limited to conditioning and restricted weight training.
Though Jefferson didn't get a message from his Mississippi pal and teammate, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin exchanged texts with Williams.
"He's doing OK," Corbin said. "He's frustrated. He's disappointed in the fact that he had to have surgery. He thought he was feeling better and he would do OK to come back a little sooner, but it's the smart thing to do and it's the right thing to do for him."
Williams hurt his thumb when he swiped at a ball and whacked his hand into Mario Chalmers' thigh during the Jazz's loss at Miami on Dec. 22. The guard's hand went numb and then gave him fits when feeling returned. The injury has kept him out of the past five games, including Wednesday's 106-84 victory over Minnesota.
"He's a veteran," Jefferson said. "He know how to bounce back from it. It still (stinks), though, because nobody don't want to be out."
That, however, will be the case until at least Feb. 23.
"We've got two veteran point guards in Jamaal (Tinsley) and Earl (Watson). The job is going to be taken care of while he's gone," Jefferson said. "Them guys been doing a heckuva job so far. I'm not too much worried about that. I'm more worried about Mo and his mindset. I think the team is going to be fine."
So far, the Jazz have gone 2-3 in Williams' absence with this injury. They're 5-4 overall without him this year.
Corbin said circumstances have made it so games have even more importance in his absence.
"They're all big for us now," he said. "We're under .500 now and we have a man down ... so we have to understand how we have to play soon without him in the lineup and collectively how we all have to pick it up to give us a chance to win."
One key, he said, will be to get quick ball movement to make up for the missing quickness. The Jazz will place more emphasis on transition play and getting the ball to the wings sooner in the offense. Corbin also said Gordon Hayward, Randy Foye and Alec Burks could get opportunities to handle the ball.
"It's difficult. He's one of the leaders. He's the guy we want to put the ball in his hands and create the speed and tempo for us," Corbin said. "For him to be out, especially now while we're trying to make a run to position (ourselves) for the second half of the season to get ready for the playoff run, it's disappointing to have him out for such an extended amount of time."
That doesn't mean the Jazz will rush out to replace Williams. Utah is in quasi-building mode, so the organization won't mortgage away flexibility it has in the future with nine expiring contracts and open payroll in return for a short-term fix.
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