First things first: It’s perhaps-predictable but no-less-disappointing news for Utah Jazz fans that All-Star point guard Mike Conley has been ruled out of Thursday’s Game 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers, as he continues to work his way back from a right hamstring strain.
Joe Ingles, the likely starter in Conley’s absence, addressed the media following Thursday morning’s shootaround, and over a span of about 15 minutes, covered a wide range of topics in his typically hilarious Jinglesian fashion:
• After being asked about how he was being defended in these playoffs, he naturally segued into his shooting woes, and the criticism that he needs to shot more: “I’m sure you’re going to hint at me not shooting well, so, I’m going to keep shooting, even though I didn’t shoot that well and I haven’t been shooting well. So I’ll answer that question before someone asks me.”
• When the subject of his matchup with then-Thunder wing and now-Clippers wing Paul “Playoff P” George from three years ago was brought up, Ingles addressed the perceived rivalry: “The whole narrative of ‘Joe versus Paul George’ is kind of a little bit old, in my mind. It’s the Jazz versus the Clippers. It was OKC versus the Jazz. … I personally don’t read into the 1-on-1 stuff. I mean, three years ago is a long time — my twins were barely talking then, and now they’re 5 and annoy the hell out of me.”
UTAH JAZZ VS. LA CLIPPERS
At Vivint Smart Home Arena
When • Thursday, 8 p.m.
TV • ESPN
• On the question of how the Jazz turned the offense around in Game 1, beyond simply making more shots: “I mean, it’s hard to kind of go away from the ‘making shots part’ — obviously, that’s a big part of it. I mean, we missed, like, 20 or 21 straight field goals. And a high number of those were good shots, too — I don’t think there was many bad shots taken. And that’s how we’ve played all year — when we have open shots, we take them. … So yeah, we’re not planning to miss 21 [in a row] tonight. That was the main thing we talked about in film [session] this morning.”
• On Rudy Gobert winning his third Defensive Player of the Year award: “I mean, not a surprise, honestly. Being around him daily for seven years now, we within the organization — and obviously a lot of people outside with the votes and stuff — realize what he does on the daily for us. This isn’t like a random [event] where he had a 50-point game one time or something like that; he does this every night, regardless of who we play. … He makes us all better defenders, he lets us be more aggressive because we know he’s got our back. And it’s nice to have a big, 7-foot French man in the back behind you. … Yeah, proud of him. He’s grown up. He’s come a long way.”
• When he was told that coach Quin Snyder had referred to him as a “utility player,” and asked whether it was a goal of his to fill that role early in his career, he addressed his rather more humble beginnings: “My first goal was just to not get cut. I was on a non-guaranteed [contract] my first year, and I just wanted to do anything I could to make the team. … I still remember one of the first ever conversations I had with coach was him telling me to run to the corner and shoot 3s if I was open, and to defend, and if I did those two things, I was going to be able to have a chance to stay on the court.”
• And when the 15 minutes were up, and the Jazz PR staffer moderating the Zoom session announced “That’s all the time we have,” in spite of a couple hands still being raised, he once more played into his schtick of hating media sessions (even though he pretty clearly does them well), saying with mock sadness: “Awwwwww, sorry guys. Maybe next time!”