Donovan Mitchell will miss Utah Jazz’s two-game road trip with back injury

The All-Star guard required some stretching in the locker room during Saturday’s game, and has now been ruled out vs. the Spurs and Blazers with a lower back strain.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) spots his large in NBA action between the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

Donovan Mitchell will miss the Utah Jazz’s coming two-game road trip to San Antonio and Portland due to a lower left back strain.

Mitchell apparently tweaked his back early in Saturday night’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks, and was observed heading down the tunnel to the team’s locker room with a few minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Jazz PR subsequently noted that Mitchell had experienced “some lower back tightness,” and went to the locker room to get some stretching treatment from the team’s training staff before returning to action.

After the game, the All-Star guard described the injury as it occurred, but attempted to downplay its severity.

“When I threw the pass to Mike [Conley], it just … I don’t really know how to describe the feeling, but it’s just like when you can’t move, and you have to kind of stand straight up,” Mitchell said. “But I got it worked on, and I dunked right after that, so I’m alright.”

He was subbed out with 3 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and returned with 8:28 remaining in the second — a stretch that pretty closely mirrors his usual substitution pattern.

His aforementioned dunk came with 2:13 remaining in the first half, as a crossover dribble opened up a clear pathway to his left all the way to the hoop, as he rose up for a two-handed throwdown and momentarily swung on the rim.

Though Mitchell would have a subpar shooting game (11 for 26 overall, 1 of 7 from deep), he consistently got into the paint, earning 11 free throws en route to a game-high 33 points, to go along with three rebounds, three assists, and three steals, while playing 34:39 — about a minute and a half more than his season average.

Still, the team announced on Sunday afternoon that his official injury designation for the games against the Spurs and Blazers would be “Out,” due to a “left lower back strain.” They also noted that he will not travel with the team for the trip, opting to remain behind in Salt Lake City to receive additional treatment.

Mitchell has appeared in 31 of the Jazz’s 32 games thus far this season, missing only their eighth game of the season, at Atlanta on Nov. 4, because of a right ankle sprain suffered two days before against the Kings.

He is averaging 25.4 points, 5.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game this season, while shooting 45.7% from the field. The Jazz currently have the third-best record in the NBA, at 23-9.

Joe Ingles, averaging 8.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds, and shooting 39.0% from 3-point range, will presumably start in Mitchell’s place.

The Jazz, who just wrapped up a six-game homestand, will face the Spurs on Monday night and the Blazers on Wednesday.

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