If the Jazz make the playoffs, they might have to do it without Enes Kanter.
Kanter will be sidelined “indefinitely” because of a dislocated shoulder, team officials announced on Thursday night.
Utah has only 10 games remaining in the regular season, starting Friday night at Portland.
Kanter was injured in the second quarter of the Jazz’s 103-88 win over Phoenix on Wednesday night. The Suns’ Hamed Haddadi landed on top of Kanter as they scrambled after the ball.
“He dive for the loose ball and I dive, too,” Haddadi said. “We both went for the basketball and I don’t know what happened after that. But when I saw his shoulder I say, ‘Ouch.’ ”
Haddadi added: “Such things happen in basketball. I will just pray for him and I wish him well.”
If Kanter is sidelined for more than a game or two, which seems likely, the Jazz will miss him. He averages 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 15.6 minutes this season.
In the 13 games before he was injured, Kanter reached double figures nine times, including a 23-point, 22-rebound double-double in a win over Charlotte.
“I thought he was making great strides,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “His game was really coming around — where and how to use what he has. His quickness at times. His brute strength at times. His jump shot. His feel for defense is getting better.”
In Kanter’s absence, Corbin has a few options.
He could simply extend the minutes of rotation regulars Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors, or he could add Jeremy Evans into the mix. Small forward Marvin Williams could also slide over and see time at power forward.
Evans could be the Jazz’s wild card. He hasn’t played much this season but, like Kanter, he has played well when given a chance lately.
“I’ll leave all that to coach,” said Evans, when asked about the possibility of a bigger role down the stretch. “We have a lot of guys he can rotate in there. But I’ll be ready when he calls my name.”
Jefferson knows the Jazz will miss Kanter, but he’s confident they can still move forward in their effort to make the playoffs.
“If he’s out, it’s going to hurt the team because he’s playing great right now and he’s a great guy to have around the locker room,” Jefferson said. “But that’s one thing about this team: we’re deep, especially with the bigs. If he’s out for a little while, we’ll be OK.”
With 10 games remaining, the Jazz find themselves in the middle of a three-team race with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Utah has won two straight heading into its game at Portland, but the Jazz are only 5-12 in their last 17 games. They have lost nine straight on the road.
Corbin’s message to his players?
Embrace the moment.
“You’ve got to love it,” he said. “If you’re a competitor, you’ve got to love this. You have an opportunity. You’re in the fight. Every game counts. Every possession is huge. … You can’t worry about where you coulda, woulda, shoulda been. You just have to make the most of where you are now.”
Down the stretch
The remaining schedules for the Lakers, Jazz and Mavericks:
L.A. LAKERS (37-36) • March 30 at Sacramento; April 2 vs. Dallas; April 5 vs. Memphis; April 7 vs. L.A. Clippers; April 9 vs. New Orleans; April 10 at Portland; April 12 vs. Golden State; April 14 vs. San Antonio; April 17 vs. Houston
UTAH (36-36) • March 29 at Portland; March 30 vs. Brooklyn; April 1 vs. Portland; April 3 vs. Denver; April 5 vs. New Orleans; April 7 at Golden State; April 9 vs. Oklahoma City; April 12 vs. Minnesota; April 15 at Minnesota; April 17 at Memphis
DALLAS (35-37) • March 30 vs. Chicago; April 2 at L.A. Lakers; April 4 at Denver; April 5 at Sacramento; April 7 at Portland; April 10 vs. Phoenix; April 12 vs. Denver; April 14 at New Orleans; April 15 vs. Memphis; April 17 vs. New Orleans.