“Sprain” is quickly becoming one of the most feared words around the Jazz organization.
And why not? After Mo Williams suffered a “severely sprained” right thumb, a second doctor advised the point guard undergo surgery that will keep him out a minimum of six weeks.
So, forgive anyone who was a little skittish over Thursday’s news that second-year center Enes Kanter suffered a sprained right ankle in the waning moments of Wednesday’s win over Minnesota. He did not practice Thursday and is listed as doubtful for Friday at Phoenix.
In fairness, a sprain is typically a relatively minor and treatable injury, and there are no indications that Kanter will miss significant time. But for a team that has been besieged by injuries, the latest is just an added layer of frustration.
“It’s another one of our guys down,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ll miss him; hopefully it’s not very serious and he’ll get back soon. We’ll just have to shorten and tighten the rotation.”
Kanter scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds Wednesday before suffering the injury. The former No. 3 pick has made his mark in recent games with a fiery style of play that has resulted in near-confrontations with several players. After Clippers forward Matt Barnes tried to intimidate Kanter by getting in his face two games ago, Kanter mixed it up with Minnesota’s J.J. Barea, Greg Stiemsma and Dante Cunningham.
“He’s a young player,” Derrick Favors said. “He’s going to establish that he’s no soft guy, that’s he going to play hard.”
Corbin agreed, saying, “In this league, you create an identity as who you are and the sooner you do it, the better off you are.”
Kanter averages 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game.
Valley of the Suns
Without Williams and Kanter, the Jazz will return Friday to the site of one of their lowest points of the season. They lost 99-84 on Dec. 14 in a game that was the first of seven in a 10-game stretch.
The Jazz fell behind by 20 points in the second quarter and after cutting the lead to four and quickly fell behind by double digits again.
“They’re an explosive team,” Corbin said. “They’re very explosive.”
While the Suns (12-21) are not among the top teams in the Western Conference, they create problems for the Jazz.
“We know they’re going to be more aggressive,” Paul Millsap said, “going to get out and run at home. So we’re going to have to try to slow them down a little bit. They’ve got some good 3-point shooters out there.”
Point guard Goran Dragic leads Phoenix with 14.5 points per game, but Jared Dudley has been their most accurate 3-point shooter at 38.9 percent.
“If you get into a jump-shooting contest with them,” Corbin said, “you don’t rotate quickly to them and make them put the ball on the floor, they’re capable of hitting 3-point shots.”