Not exactly a good news day for the Utah Jazz. Enes Kanter goes under the knife tomorrow in Chicago to repair a dislocated left shoulder and the Jazz are back out of playoff position following a 90-80 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Jazz rotation is ravaged by injuries. Tyrone Corbin put just eight players on the floor for the first time since April 2011. In addition to Kanter, Marvin Williams was home with a stomach flu and Alec Burks continued to rest a sprained left ankle. The only guys not to play for the Jazz were two D-Leaguers (Kevin Murphy and Jerel McNeal), Jeremy Evans and Earl Watson.
But go big picture for a minute: Anyone who entered Tuesday with some confidence that the Jazz would make the playoffs had to feel exactly the same at the end of the night. Picking a win over the Thunder, who destroyed the Jazz in two of the previous three matchups, would be foolish. A win would have almost solidified a playoff spot, with two of the final three games coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves. But now, if the Jazz win out and the Lakers finish 3-1, Utah is in the playoffs.
If the Jazz go 2-1, they need the Lakers to lose twice. That was the whole story from tonight's game, at least the one you'll read in tomorrow's Tribune. At this point, it's all about counting to four — the Jazz's magic number.
The real killer for the Jazz would be a loss to Minnesota. Otherwise, this could all come down to April 17, when the Jazz are at Memphis and the Lakers host Houston.
The Jazz sure seem to be shooting a lot of perimeter shots. They attempted 25 3-pointers at Golden State, 26 against New Orleans, 20 vs. Denver, 22 against Portland. Tuesday, they were 7-of-25 from 3. For a team that professes an inside-out philosophy, that is problematic.
Meanwhile, the Jazz attempted just 14 free throws Tuesday night. As Steve Luhm pointed out on Twitter, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap — the team's go-to interior players — shot just one free throw in the loss to the Thunder.
"You got Serge Ibaka down there blocking a lot of shots," DeMarre Carroll said, "it kind of alters your offense a little bit.
Dennis Lindsey spoke to a group of media members before the game about Enes Kanter's injury. The full story has all of the context, but there was more from Lindsey that didn't make it.
— "The doctors were unanimous and looking at what ws best for Enes and really it came down to simple math. The probability of the shoulder dislocating...is much less likely to happen with surgical reattachment rather than straight rehab and at the end of the day, it was a unanimous decision, easy decision."
— "We wanted to be cautious and that's why we had this lag."
— "No timetable, so nothing on summer league."
— "Enes is disappointed, because he's competitive, he's tough. He wanted to jump all in in the playoff race that we're currently in. So as you guys know, players and competitors dsometimes you've got to save them from themselves. And the greatest goal here was Enes' long-term health. That bodes well for Enes and as good a player as Enes is now her's going to be better later and again bodes well for us."
— "Enes really wanted to come back but again we wanted to save him from himself. The other thing is he plays such a physical style, that the next NBA game that Enes enters we want... There's a physical component to rehabilitation, but there's also a phsyichological component that Max [Ergul], his agent, rightfully stressed, and Enes plays such a physical style to, between the ears, be injury-free as well."
— "We'll miss him, to be frank. He's a gifted player and again he's really moving in the right direction. ... Ty's already made decisions that each of the three big guys that remain in the rotation will get a little more piece of the action from a rotation standpoint. Obviously, we were starting to go through Enes in the post and the pick and roll more, so Ty, I think, has done a very good job of adjusting to Enes' absence. But when you're down a player, but especially a talented young big that was playing as well and is as energetic as Enes, you're going to miss him. It's incumbent upon the group to still compete well even though we're down a man."
— Bill Oram