Well, I defer to our medical group on that. We’re going to confer and trust those guys to not do anything to put Rudy in harm’s way and when he’s ready to go he’ll be ready to go. —Jazz coach Quin Snyder
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz fans may be receiving an early Christmas present soon.
After participating in a light practice Sunday, Jazz center Rudy Gobert could make his return to the lineup as early as Monday night against the Washington Wizards.
He’s listed as questionable.
“Well, I defer to our medical group on that,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We’re going to confer and trust those guys to not do anything to put Rudy in harm’s way and when he’s ready to go he’ll be ready to go.”
Gobert has been sidelined for the past 11 games with a bone bruise in his right knee.
He was originally expected to miss at least four weeks but the big man is a little more than three weeks removed from the right tibia contusion after clashing with Miami’s Dion Waiters on Nov. 10.
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell said he was surprised by Gobert’s conditioning in his first day back. He’s still adjusting to the new plays that Snyder has inserted during his absence but had no issues with getting back in the flow of things.
“It was good to have that rim protection,” Mitchell said. “(Derrick Favors) and Ekpe (Udoh) have been doing a great job as far as rim protection and even Jonas (Jerebko), but when you have the big fella back there it’s a little different, but it’s great to have him back. We’re excited.”
Favors has filled in greatly at the center position without Gobert, recording 20 or more points on four occasions, but will likely slip back to the power forward spot.
Utah has won five straight games and has gone 7-4 without Gobert in the lineup.
Managing Gobert’s role for his return is something Snyder and the coaching staff are open to doing.
Jazz guard Rodney Hood is still questionable Monday after missing the last three games with left ankle soreness. Raul Neto is probable against the Wizards after missing the last two games with left hamstring soreness.
“It goes without saying that we’re not going to not play Rudy and Rodney because we’ve been good,” Snyder said. “Hopefully we stay good and get even better with those guys, similar to way that we had to adjust when we lost them, we’ll have to adjust when they come back.”
MOVING ON: The past 48 hours have been crazy for Donovan Mitchell. After going off for a career-high 41 points Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, the rookie is doing his best to keep things normal. Although his social media attention and phone calls have certainly increased, he’s already shifted his focus. On Saturday, he attended the University of Utah’s game against Hawaii, where he received a MUSS Holiday Sweater until the attention became too much to deal with.
“It’s been kinda crazy. I really haven’t done much,” Mitchell said. “I really haven’t answered my phone much and been leaving kinda the social media stuff alone. It’s definitely a great win and a great night, I won’t forget it, but now I’m really trying to turn my focus to the next upcoming game, which is going to be tough.”
AB FINDS A GROOVE: During the Jazz’s five-game winning streak, Alec Burks has provided a great boost off the bench. Burks is averaging 18 points, including a season-high 28 points in 29 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Staples Center. For the season, he’s averaging 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.
“I think the expanded role with people being out I get to be on the court more and just catch a rhythm,” Burks said. “My rhythm’s been good, my timing’s been good and I’ve been able to read better, so that’s all it is.”