SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah Jazz boarded a flight to Portland, Oregon, following Tuesday afternoon’s practice.
Dante Exum (left ankle sprain) has missed the last 11 games, but was spotted after Tuesday’s session participating in on-court work with Jazz assistants Mike Wells and Jeff Watkinson at the facility.
He suffered the injury in the first half of the Jazz’s win in Detroit on Jan. 5 and hasn’t returned since.
Exum and teammates Raul Neto (left groin strain), Thabo Sefolosha (mild right hamstring strain) were also re-examined by the Jazz’s medical staff on Tuesday and will miss more time.
Utah (29-22) will face the Trail Blazers on the road at 8:30 p.m. MST Wednesday on ESPN without the trio.
Neto has missed the last nine games while Sefolosha has missed the last 11 games after suffering his injury in the same game as Exum versus the Pistons. Both will be re-examined in one week, while Exum is making progress but won’t get re-evaluated until after the All-Star break.
Former North Carolina center Tony Bradley has only appeared in one Jazz game this season, but underwent right knee surgery after being injured in the G League with the Salt Lake City Stars. He still has another week before being re-evaluated as well.
Even without the injured players, Utah is 11-3 throughout January — which is tied with Denver and Golden State for most wins throughout that stretch. The Jazz also hold the second-best defensive rating for January (104.2) with the No. 5 net rating (7.4) for the month.
The Jazz are the seventh seed in the Western Conference, while star guard Donovan Mitchell has turned his season around to average 30.4 points, 6.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds on 46.9 percent shooting in his last 10 games. Utah has won three straight in the process.
With key pieces being sidelined, Jazz coach Quin Snyder admits he’s had to adjust without them but doesn’t see it being a problem with adding more depth to the lineup when they do return.
“That’s happened already with Ricky (Rubio) being out and coming back. There’s always adjustments when that happens, but for our team, I think the focus that we’ve had for really the whole season, I think it really started to settle in a month or so in, and we started ways to get better and nothing’s changed,” Snyder said. “I don’t care if we’ve won 20 in a row or two in a row or lost three in a row, we need to keep trying to get better, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”
Although it wasn’t an ideal situation to see his teammates go down, Jazz sharpshooter Kyle Korver has been around the league long enough, in Year 16, to recognize the bigger picture in all of this. He just wants the guys to return full strength when they do to help when it matters.
“This is one of those times in the course of the season where certain guys go down but they get some rest,” Korver said. “Certainly, the other guys are going to step up and they get a little more experience and you kind of makeshift some lineups.
“Donovan’s had to play a lot of point guard for us, and I think it’s been a really good thing for him,” he added. “He’s had to really see the floor, control the team and not just score, and I think that’s helped his development. The goal is to be at our best in April and May.”