SALT LAKE CITY — The most obvious thing about the Utah Jazz this year is that it is a much better team with George Hill on the floor.
Hill has averaged 20.0 points on 53.4 percent shooting as well as 4.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Going into Thursday night’s game with Miami, the Jazz owned an 8-3 record with him in the lineup and a 3-5 record without him.
So it wasn’t good news Thursday morning when Jazz officials announced that Hill, who had already missed eight games with a finger injury, would miss Thursday's game with a sprained left big toe.
The injury happened late in the Tuesday victory over Houston, but whether Hill will be out a game or longer isn’t known.
“He’s out, we’ve got to deal with the hand we’re dealt,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder, who has already dealt with myriad injuries in his two-plus years as the Jazz coach. “We’re in the same boat we’ve been in and would like to have everybody, but we don’t, so we’ve got to figure out a way to maximize that opportunity.”
Since returning from a right thumb injury that kept him out for eight games, Hill has averaged 19.7 points on 52 percent shooting the past four games, all of which the Jazz have won.
One player who has thrived with Hill back in the lineup is Gordon Hayward, who was in a bit of a slump for a few games when Hill was out. However, since Hill returned last week, Hayward has averaged 25.2 points per game on 49-percent shooting.
“Everybody has a little more responsibility and he’s been a huge part of our success this year,” said Hayward of Hill. “It’s unfortunate he’s injured again and we need to find a way to pick it up without him.”
Another player who has played well with Hill back in the lineup is Rudy Gobert, who has averaged 15.3 points and 13.5 rebounds over the past four games.
“It’s tough. It’s a good thing it’s not too bad and he’s going to be back pretty soon,” said Gobert before the game. “We’re going to miss him tonight but we've still got to play another game.”
Snyder said he hopes the Jazz can keep playing the way they have the past few games with Hill in the lineup.
“You have you to approach it the same way,” Snyder said. “It is what it is, let’s control the things we can control. That’s going to be the way for us to maximize the situation. If we had him or Derrick (Favors) or Alec (Burks) we’d have a different situation but we don’t and there’s no value to lamenting that, so we have to deal with what we have.”