SALT LAKE CITY — When Quin Snyder was asked before the game about the possibility of Rodney Hood getting back in the starting lineup soon, he answered by saying Jonas Jerebko would be starting Monday night instead of Donovan Mitchell. That elicited laughs from the assembled media, who thought he was joking because Jerebko had played sparingly this year.
It turned out Snyder was only half-kidding.
Jerebko, who didn’t even play in five of Utah’s first six games of the season was indeed the starter at power forward Monday night. With Rudy Gobert out and Derrick Favors moving to center, Thabo Sefolosha had started Saturday night at the four spot. However, Mitchell stayed in the starting lineup at guard with Ricky Rubio.
Snyder went on to say that starting lineups don’t matter that much, that different players start different quarters and different players finish games. He said when he was a D-League coach in Austin nearly a decade ago that he once started five point guards just to make a point to his team that starting didn’t matter.
The Jazz coach said the main reason for starting Jerebko instead of Sefalosha was the matchup with Taj Gibson and that the 6-foot-10, 235 Swede was a better match than the 6-7, 220-pound Sefolosha.
Before Monday Jerebko has already missed more games this season than he did all of last year in Boston when he started six games and averaged 3.8 points in 16 minutes per game.
“During my career, I’ve started, been on the bench, played two minutes, played 20 minutes so you’ve just got to be ready when your number’s called,” Jerebko said. “Whether I started or not, it just felt good to get 20-plus minutes tonight.”
Jerebko finished the night with 13 points and six rebounds in his first Jazz start, hitting 4 of 7 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. After scoring two points in the first half, he scored 11 in the second half and played extensive minutes down the stretch when the Jazz made a run and outscored the T-Wolves 33-21 the fourth quarter.
GOBERT SPEAKS: Rudy Gobert spoke for the first time since it was announced he would be out for at least four weeks with a bone bruise in his right leg.
The big Frenchman was in good spirits as he talked about the injury in a pre-game interview Monday night and his prospects of getting healthy.
“The main thing is that I know that I’ll recover 100 percent,” he said. “My ligaments are fine. The strength of my knee is fine so we’re just restraining that.”
Gobert said he felt “lucky” because he lifted his foot at the same moment he was hit and that it would have been much worse if his foot was on the floor. He also called the four weeks until his re-evaluation as a “projection.’
“It’s all about how I heal and how I feel,” he said. “Usually I heal very fast so I’m pretty confident. We’re not going to rush it or do anything stupid but I’m pretty confident that hopefully I can be done before that.”
JOHNSON STILL OUT: When Joe Johnson injured his wrist on Oct. 30, the team announced that he would be re-evaluated in two weeks. A lot of folks figured, Johnson would be playing again after two weeks, but he’s not about to play anytime soon.
Johnson was on the floor for pre-game warmups Monday, but he still had a splint on his right wrist and was dribbling and shooting with his left hand. He said he can’t shoot or dribble with his right hand yet, but that he would accompany the team on its Eastern road trip.
JAZZ NOTES: Former Jazzman Ronnie Price was at the game Monday night. After playing in the league for 12 seasons, most recently with Phoenix the last two years, the former Utah Valley star says he still has hopes of being picked up by a team this year . . . The Jazz head out Tuesday for a four-game, six-day road trip that will include games at New York Wednesday, Brooklyn Friday, Orlando Saturday and Philadelphia Monday . . . The Jazz are the only team in the NBA without a road win this year. . . Utah has played more home games than any team in the league with 10 and is tied for the fewest road games with just four so far . . . Utah lost to the T-Wolves 100-97 in Minnesota in their first road game of the season . . .