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Utah Jazz notes: Mo Williams fears the worst on injured thumb

Published December 23, 2012 11:33 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Orlando • Jazz point guard Mo Williams will be out indefinitely after suffering a right thumb injury that he said feels the same as a torn ligament in 2008 that required surgery.

Williams caught his thumb on the ball when defending a drive by Miami point guard Mario Chalmers during the second quarter of the Jazz's eventual 105-89 loss to the Heat on Saturday. When he injured it, the Jazz's third-leading scorer said he knew it was a serious injury, more so than the sprain he suffered in the hand earlier this season.

"I was dribbling down the court," he said, "and it really felt like I had one arm."

Williams watched Sunday's 97-93 win from the Jazz bench, and tried to do his part for the Jazz. With 14.5 seconds left in the first quarter, Magic guard J.J. Redick made a 21-foot jumper in front of Williams, and turned to glare after Williams apparently said something.

"They're still going to hear my mouth," Williams said. "I'm not going to stop talking. I'm going to stay as upbeat as possible. It's tough today, just hearing the news."

The Jazz's No. 3 scorer with 13.3 points per game, Williams was 10th in the NBA with 6.8 assists before leaving Saturday's game early.

Williams underwent an MRI on Sunday in Orlando, which revealed only damage in the thumb. He will be evaluated by team orthopedist Lyle Mason when the team returns to Salt Lake City and the swelling has gone down, Williams said.

"I can't even eat or brush my teeth," Williams said. "It was tough to bathe. That's when I kind of knew it was significant like it was then. I just couldn't utilize it. When you lose some part of your body when you get injured, you realize how significant that part of your body is."

Jamaal Tinsley started in place of Williams and finished with 11 points and four assists in 27 minutes. In a backup role, Earl Watson tallied 8 assists in 20 minutes.

"Mo brings things to the table that a lot of guys don't bring," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "But JT and Earl [Watson] have been professionals and lead. I feel real confident that they can hold it down until he gets back."

How long that might be remains the question. Williams underwent offseason surgery for a torn ligament in his right thumb in 2008, and went six weeks without participating in basketball activities.

"It's different from a sprained ankle or something like that when it's day to day," Williams said. "You get into some significant things, you want to gtake care of it. It's unfortunate, but at the end of the day, we've got some great doctors here, some great staff. We're going to tackle it the best way we can when we figure out what exactly it is."

Home for Christmas

The Jazz concluded their annual pre-Christmas road trip at 2-2, notching wins in Brooklyn and Oakland, and falling in Indianapolis and Miami. More importantly for several Jazz players, however, is the fact that the Jazz make it a priority to get the team home for Christmas.

"You miss a lot of things with your kids and your family anyway," Corbin said. "And the more time you can have in holidays and Christmas and Thanksgiving, especially with the little kids, it's invaluable. You can't get those times back."

Several Jazz players went shopping at a Miami mall on an off day last week, and Gordon Hayward said he did some online shopping. He can only hope the packages arrived at his Salt Lake City home in time.

"It's always nice to be home for the holiday," Hayward said. "We were blessed we were able to be home for Thanksgiving as well. Just spending that extra time with family getting away from basketball a little bit is always good, kind of lets you relax a little bit but not think about the job that you have."

The Jazz caught a flight home immediately following their win over the Magic, and were scheduled to return at about 1 a.m., when they were thrust into a wintry world full of family and gifts and practice-free yuletide cheer.

The Jazz will not practice on either Christmas Eve or Christmas.

"I feel like it's not even Christmas," Watson said. "Because we've been traveling so much. We've been in Florida, the weather's been different. It's hard to believe when we land it's Christmas Eve. ... . I guess when I see my daughter tomorrow night it will be real."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz