As his team’s morning shootaround came to a close, Ricky Rubio was still hard at work. He waltzed through a footwork drill, jogged the length of the court, and fired catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.
The Utah Jazz point guard was held out of action Friday night for a third straight game with a hamstring injury, but he appears to be trending in the right direction.
“He’s making progress,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “How much progress is always hard to gauge. I think it would be imprudent of me to try to be more specific than that, because we don’t know. He’s in good hands with Mike Elliott (the head of the team’s medical and sports science efforts) … he and his group.”
The Jazz miss Rubio’s contributions on the court. The point guard was averaging 14 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in the playoffs before he was injured in Game 6 of Utah’s first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Snyder said he has seen a turnaround in Rubio’s spirits since he was initially injured.
“I sensed in Game 1 that he was despondent,” Snyder said. “There was a sense, like, ‘Man, I’ve put a lot into this’ and he’s so passionate about the group and such a competitor that it was really hard for him — and it still is hard for him.”
But when he watched film of the Jazz’s Game 2 victory over the Rockets in Houston, the coach caught a glimpse of Rubio yelling as he came off the bench at halftime.
“I think his spirit is back,” Snyder said. “… He’s a passionate player. To the extent that he can share that, whether it be on the bench or in the locker room, that adds something.”
‘High on our list’
Joe Ingles has been called a math teacher and mistaken for “The Office” character Toby Flenderson. But you can bet the Houston Rockets know all about the Jazz forward after his 27-point performance in Game 2.
“He is pretty high on our list,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said of Ingles’ place on their scouting report.
Despite Ingles’ success in the playoffs, D’Antoni believes Houston has done a good job defending him.
“It’s not like he had camouflage or anything, we see him right there, and he’s not the fastest guy in the world,” D’Antoni said. “He’s just a good basketball player. Smart, picks his time. … And again, he gets his career high. What did he have, 13 shots? Made 11 of them. So it’s not like we lost him a lot. It’s just that he made them all.”
Charles Barkley was a Hall of Fame basketball player. His skills as a prognosticator aren’t quite as good.
Barkley, now an analyst with TNT, said he did not believe the Jazz could win a single game against the Rockets in this second-round matchup. After the Jazz tied the series at 1, Barkley’s remarks made it back to star rookie Donovan Mitchell.
“Shoutout to Chuck,” Mitchell said with a smile Friday. “That was pretty funny what he said on TNT.”