SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz’s injury report increased and improved at the same time leading up to Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Bad news, first.
George Hill has been listed as doubtful for this game as he continues to nurse a right groin strain that’s kept him out of the past four games.
Also, Jeff Withey, who’s given the team some good backup center minutes this season, missed Thursday’s practice with an illness.
There is some good news.
Derrick Favors (knee), Rodney Hood (knee), Raul Neto (groin) and Hill each had limited participation in practice.
Even better, Favors has been upgraded to questionable for Friday’s contest. He’s missed three weeks of action with a left knee bone contusion, a nagging injury that’s kept him out of 31 games this season.
Hood, Neto and Withey are also listed as questionable against the T-Wolves.
“They’re making progress,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s encouraging.”
Favors, Hill, Neto, Alec Burks, Trey Lyles and Joel Bolomboy held a short and lively half-court, three-on-three scrimmage after the team’s practice Thursday.
“It’s controlled what they’re doing,” Snyder said. “A lot of it’s going to depend on some of the situations. We have guys, they can move. You have to really see how their bodies’ react. That’s what we’re seeing.”
It seems especially encouraging that Favors is getting that kind of activity in, considering his knee struggles this year.
Snyder said the team is hopeful Favors will be available by the playoffs, but they won’t force getting him some game experience if he’s not quite ready.
“It’s ideal if he’s healthy,” Snyder said about Favors coming back before the regular season ends next Wednesday. “The key thing is if he doesn’t have game experience before the playoffs, he may not have game experience for Game 2. He’s going to be better healthy than he is with (playing) time. That line there is always difficult.”
BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN: Some Jazz fans have set up a GoFundMe account to raise $5,000 in order to buy a billboard that would hopefully convince Gordon Hayward to remain in Utah if he opts out of the final year of his contract and becomes a free agent this offseason.
The proposed billboard includes the word “STAYWARD,” clever play on words with the All-Star’s last name.
Ingles, who’ll be a free agent this summer, was asked for his reaction about the Hayward billboard.
“I’m waiting for my own billboard,” he joked. “I’ll donate to my own billboard GoFundMe.”
What phrase would the guy, who’s been called Slow Mo Joe and Jingles by Jazz fans and broadcasters, suggest putting on his billboard?
“The amount of nicknames Utah has given me over the last three years, I’m sure we could think of something interesting,” Ingles said. “I’ll donate. I’ll put a couple of bucks into it.”
KUTV-Ch. 4 sportscaster Dana Greene gave his suggestion: “Don’t go, Joe.”
PESKY TIMBERWOLVES: The Jazz have a vivid memory of what happened the last time Utah and Minnesota met on March 1. Utah, just back from a three-game road trip, got blasted by the T-Wolves at home, 107-80.
“It was a tough, tough game for us,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “It was a game we had no juice at all. We didn’t really fight it. They just kicked our (behind).”
Minnesota definitely has Utah’s attention this time around.
“They’re playing extremely hard. It’s not going to be any easier than it was the other night or any other game,” Jazz small forward Ingles said. “I think they came in here last time and smoked us too, didn’t they? They’re going to come in confident. We’ve got to be ready to play, otherwise it will be like last time.”
Gobert implied that the Jazz, who need this win to maintain a lead over the Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the West, won’t let that happen.
“It’s going to be a different game (Friday) for sure."