SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz might need to ask the NBA for an exception that allows former players in town to honor Jerry Sloan to suit up for tonight’s game.
A good chunk of the current Jazz team is dealing with health issues heading into this 8:30 showdown against the Golden State Warriors.
Five players are listed with game-time decision status, including four starters.
Point guard Trey Burke and small forward Richard Jefferson have been battling with gastric distress; center Derrick Favors continues to be bothered by right hip inflammation; power forward Marvin Williams is experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired Achilles heel; and backup point guard John Lucas III has a lower back strain.
“If they can’t make it it’s unfortunate,” Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said, “but we hope they can.”
Hayward, not too far removed from his five-game injury absence, is the only Jazz starter not listed on the medical report.
“That was kind of a shock to me, too, this morning,” Hayward said after shootaround. “It’s unfortunate that it’s like that, but that’s just how it is. That’s how the NBA season goes.”
Golden State is coming off of an impressive 111-92 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers late Thursday night. Power forward David Lee and sharpshooting guard Steph Curry each scored 22 for the Warriors (28-19).
The Jazz (16-29) haven’t played since beating Sacramento 106-99 Monday night at home. A win would give Utah, which has lost twice to the Warriors this season, its first three-game winning streak.
“They’re pretty good offensively. They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of things they can do well,” Hayward said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’re going to have to make sure all five guys are focused every play. When you have one guy who’s not, it just really kills you, especially against this team because all five of them can make plays and score the basketball, so it’s going to be difficult.”
The game comes on a special night for the Jazz organization as Utah celebrates what has officially been declared “Jerry Sloan Day.” The Hall of Fame coach will be honored by a banner-raising ceremony at halftime. John Stockton and Karl Malone are among the local legends in town for the ceremony.
Hayward and forward Jeremy Evans are the only remaining players on the Jazz roster from the Sloan Era.
“I learned a lot about basketball and I learned a lot about just life in general (from Sloan),” Hayward said. “It’s pretty cool that he’s still here and involved with the team (as senior basketball adviser). It’s pretty cool that we’re honoring him tonight and we can all be a part of it.”