It’s funny how the calendar worked out. It’s a good thing — it gets my mind right, to pick up where I Ieft off, just to get through this game and keep going forward. —Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum
SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t planned this way, but it was a bit coincidental that the night Dante Exum returned to the lineup for the Utah Jazz, the opponent was the Phoenix Suns, the same team the Jazz were playing the night Exum went out with his shoulder injury that kept him out for more than five months.
It was back on Oct. 6 when the Jazz were playing their third preseason game when Exum injured his shoulder after a collision with the Suns’ T.J. Warren.
Exum was trying a left-handed layup from the right side and just after he let the ball go, Warren came flying down the lane and his 6-8 225-pound body landed on Exum, who immediately writhed around on the floor, holding his left shoulder. After a few seconds he jumped up and went sprinting to the locker room holding his shoulder.
“It’s funny how the calendar worked out,” Exum said about coming back against Phoenix. “It’s a good thing — it gets my mind right, to pick up where I Ieft off, just to get through this game and keep going forward.”
Exum, who scored 10 points in 14 minutes Thursday, said he held no grudges about the incident and that he heard from Warren soon after.
“He reached out to me straight away after it happened,” Exum said. “No hard feelings, it was just basketball, a freak accident. It was a long time ago I’m just excited to be out there and playing again.”
Phoenix coach Jay Triano, who was an assistant coach to Earl Watson at the time, said he didn’t remember much about the incident back in October.
“Throughout the course of the game, players get hooked up, caught up on plays,” he said. “I’m glad that he’s back, I’m glad that he’s healthy. He’s a good player.”
Warren was approached for a comment before the game but preferred not to talk to the media.
NOT ON GAME DAY: Coach Quin Snyder talks to the media after morning shootaround and again an hour and 45 minutes before the game. So when he was asked what was new since his morning media appearance, he said. “A couple of NCAA Tournament games, right?
However, Snyder wouldn’t admit to watching much of the games, not even his beloved Duke Blue Devils, who defeated Iona 89-67 earlier in the afternoon.
“I had a couple on, but didn’t get a chance to watch,” he said. “I’ll watch when it’s not a game day.”
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz completed the season series against Phoenix with a 3-1 mark, their one loss coming back in October on the road . . . The Jazz play Sacramento at home Saturday night and come back for a home game against Atlanta on Tuesday. Then it’s off to Texas for a pair of games against Dallas and San Antonio before a Sunday game at Golden State . . . The Jazz finished with just seven turnovers, compared to 22 for Phoenix . . . The Suns had scored 97 points in each of their first three games against Utah but managed only 88 points Thursday.