Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder played coy on Saturday afternoon when asked about injuries.
“I figure the times I don’t answer,” he said playfully to the media, “you’ll figure it out.”
But later on in the day, some hopeful news emerged: The Jazz officially reported that Ricky Rubio (hamstring) has been upgraded to questionable for Game 4 after missing three games, while Derrick Favors (ankle sprain) is questionable after missing most of the second half in Game 3.
The Jazz may need both back in the fold to beat the one-seed Houston Rockets, after they were bushwhacked at home Friday night.
Rubio has missed the whole series after excelling in his first playoff appearance against Oklahoma City. The Spanish point guard 16.8 points, 7.8 assists and 8.6 rebounds in the first five games of the series before leaving in the opening minutes of Game 6. He’s been spotted running after practices and shootarounds, as well as doing shooting drills prior to Game 3.
While rookie Donovan Mitchell and wingman Joe Ingles have mostly split ball-handling duties, the Jazz could clearly use Rubio back — particularly after a Game 3 which featured 16 turnovers to 17 assists.
“We’re asking Donovan right now to be a point guard, and it’s different,” Snyder said. “There’s a lot of things that change when you take someone out from a lineup as instrumental as Ricky.”
Tribune sources indicated Saturday that Favors intends to play in Game 4. The forward is averaging 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds throughout the postseason, but Houston’s smaller lineups have forced the Jazz into playing Favors and Rudy Gobert together less in the second-round series.
Shaking off the hangover
The Jazz had a film session on Saturday afternoon before some light shooting drills, and the tone of their observations hadn’t changed much from immediately after Game 3.
Said Gobert: “Everything was on a lower level [from Game 2].”
But the public acknowledgement of their shortcomings, while thorough, isn’t necessarily a sign the Jazz are dwelling on the loss. Snyder said after film, he thought the Jazz were carrying lessons with them — not baggage.
“One of the points of acknowledging something is you move on from it,” he said. “I don’t think the idea is to be down, or carry a poor performance with you emotionally.”
Rockets’ birthday boy
The Rockets, led by rookie Zhou Qi, sang Happy Birthday to veteran forward PJ Tucker before practice on Saturday. Tucker, when asked by coach Mike D’Antoni how old he was, replied “21”.
Tucker is 33. He was then asked what he wanted for a gift: “Two more wins.”