Obviously, there are a lot more opportunities out there. —Joe Ingles
ORLANDO, Fla. — Nothing too in-depth has been spoken about.
It’s something that goes without saying: Go out and play.
As the Utah Jazz’s injury report grows as tall as Shawn Bradley, there is one positive thing that’s coming out of this.
The team’s missing pieces are giving reserves key minutes and more exposure.
Although the Jazz are still in search of their identity, those guys are certainly trying to take advantage of their time in the spotlight.
“Obviously, there are a lot more opportunities out there,” said Jazz forward Joe Ingles. “Obviously right now, we’re battling with whatever healthy guys and just trying to do whatever to get a win because I’m sick of losing, so it’s just kind of the opportunity.”
One of those guys is backup point guard Raul Neto. In Ricky Rubio’s absence Friday, the floor general came off the bench to post a career-high 22 points in 19 minutes.
Even when he’s unsure of how many minutes he’ll play, Neto stays ready by working hard in the gym everyday just as if he would in a starting role.
“I try to go on the court every day and just do my job,” Neto said. “That’s what I’ve been doing since last year. Last year, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities, either, and I just tried to work every day and be ready for when opportunity comes.”
Coach Quin Snyder is a realist. He understands how tough it is to win without Rudy Gobert (right tibia contusion), Joe Johnson (right wrist tendon instability) and Dante Exum (left shoulder).
In Friday’s loss to Brooklyn, the team even played without Thabo Sefolosha and Ricky Rubio, but both guys returned from right knee and Achilles soreness to suit up Saturday in Orlando.
“The guys have to be ready to go,” Snyder said. “We have to be ready to play. We have to play with what we have. When I say there is a little realism for all of us we’re going to need to do more.”
RUBIO, SEFOLOSHA RETURN: After Friday’s 118-107 loss in Brooklyn, the team announced that Thabo Sefolosha and Ricky Rubio would return to the lineup after recovering from soreness. Snyder said the team would monitor Rubio’s minutes to prevent any further injury.
“That soreness in his Achilles is something they really want to monitor,” Snyder said. “He’s not in harm’s way but it’s the type of thing with overuse it can continue to linger and we want to have him back at full strength but he’s ready to play.”
FAMILIAR FACE: Orlando Magic point guard Shelvin Mack spent time in Utah from 2015-17. He started nine games for the Jazz last season, averaging 7.8 points and 2.8 assists. Mack first impressed Snyder in Atlanta, when the Jazz head man served as an assistant coach, after learning his path in the league with his mental toughness. The 27-year-old is as tough as nails and has started twice this season for the Magic.
“He’s confident in himself and there isn’t a situation where he’s intimidated or the moment’s too big for him,” Snyder said.