SALT LAKE CITY — Injuries have been an issue for the Utah Jazz in recent years with several players going down for long stretches, including Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum and Alec Burks.
So whenever a player appears to be injured, the Jazz hold their collective breath, which they had to do a couple of times in Saturday night’s loss at Denver.
The first time was in the first half when Exum went to the locker room after tweaking his right shoulder, not the same shoulder he separated a year earlier in a preseason game against Phoenix that kept him out nearly the whole season.
Exum was checked out and then returned to play in the second half.
Then midway through the fourth quarter, Donovan Mitchell went down after one of his twisting drives to the basket and lay on the floor in apparent pain holding his ankle. After a minute or two, he was helped off the floor to the locker room and seemed done for the night as he had in Minnesota last week when he tweaked his hamstring in the fourth quarter and sat with a wrap around his leg. However, this time, Mitchell returned and played a couple of minutes down the stretch.
Both Exum and Mitchell downplayed their injuries after the game.
“It’s just something that happens during the game,” said Exum, who's expected to be fine for Monday's game against Toronto. “Obviously that gave me and everyone a little scare, but it’s fine. I was able to return and continue to play. It’s just something I need to take care of and manage.”
As for Mitchell, on Sunday the Jazz ruled him out for Monday. He said, “I was just being a baby. I’m good. I’ve twisted an ankle before. It’s not a great feeling. I don’t tape my ankles, so I’ll probably start. That’s all it is, just a day-to day, nothing bad.”
Burks has missed the past three games with a left hand injury and his status for this week's games is unclear.
CROWDER CONSISTENT: One area where the Jazz need to improve this year is their consistency. They’ve had some great offensive stretches (first half against Golden State), some poor offensive outings (Memphis games) and some disastrous ones (fourth quarter against Denver). Defense has been up and down with some good games and some not-so-good ones.
It’s the same with players, as Ricky Rubio had a couple of good games, but mostly poor ones, while Mitchell has been up and down as has Exum and Joe Ingles.
The most consistent player for Utah has been reserve forward Jae Crowder, who over the past four games has averaged 18 points and six rebounds while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range.
Crowder’s fine play has taken some of Favor’s minutes away as he only played 19 minutes Saturday after not playing more than 23 in any of the previous five games.2 comments on this story
JAZZ NOTES: Gobert leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 71.8 percent and is fourth in blocked shots (2.33 bpg) and fifth in rebounds (13.6 rpg). … Mitchell is tied for 17th in scoring at 22.4 points per game. … Mitchell is 12th in steals at 1.75 per game and Ingles is tied for 14th at 1.67. … The Jazz are fifth in the league in free-throw attempts (28.4 per game), but only 19th in free-throw percentage (73.8). … The Jazz defeated Monday night’s opponent Toronto in a preseason game 105-90 back in early October.