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Late injuries to Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic loom over Utah Jazz’s loss to Warriors

The center missed the final 2:30 of the game with a left calf strain, and said he and the team will be “cautious” with the injury, while the sharpshooting forward was hampered by a right knee contusion.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, left, shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Nemanja Bjelica (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco • There were grand designs on this weekend back-to-back giving us all some big-picture indication of where the Utah Jazz stand. And now, before they’re even to the second game, the Jazz’s circumstances have gone from bad to worse.

Exactly how much worse remains to be seen.

Sunday evening’s 94-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center, in which they totaled only 17 points in the fourth quarter, was almost an afterthought, relative to Rudy Gobert sitting out the final 2:30 after suffering what the team deemed a “left calf strain.” Meanwhile, Bojan Bogdanovic had a midair collision in the fourth quarter that caused him to repeatedly try to shake his leg out down the stretch, and the team’s training staff diagnosed him with a “right knee contusion” postgame.

With Donovan Mitchell considered unlikely to fly out to Phoenix and return to action after several days in the NBA’s concussion protocol, Mike Conley perhaps destined to sit out so as not to play two days in a row, Gobert almost assuredly sitting out, and Bogdanovic seemingly questionable at best, Monday’s much-anticipated matchup with the league-leading Suns now looks a lot like a throwaway game.

“We’re a team that’s been through a lot this past month,” forward Rudy Gay noted afterward. “And we’re still going through a lot.”

Bit of an understatement.

Most of Sunday’s postgame media availabilities were significantly delayed, as Gobert and Bogdanovic underwent evaluation and treatment in a training room adjacent to the visitors’ locker room.

When Gobert — who totaled 12 points, 18 rebounds, and three blocks — finally emerged, he had not only both his knees wrapped in icepacks, as he customarily does postgame, but his calf was wrapped too, and he clearly had some mobility issues stepping onto and off of the slightly raised interview dais.

The center initially downplayed the injury, calling it “just a strain,” “a minor injury,” and adding, “I don’t think it’s anything bad.”

However, he also conceded that he very clearly felt not right when the injury occurred.

“I felt it right away. … I felt something slowly — like, not a tear, but a slow tear,” Gobert said. “I knew something happened, but I tried to play through it. I could feel it wasn’t moving right, and I didn’t want to make it worse.”

He said that, never having had that particular injury before, he couldn’t give any kind of timeline on when he’d heal, or any approximation of how many games he might miss, but said he and the team would “be cautious” about it.

Given how badly the Jazz’s defense cratered during a recent five-game stretch they played without the three-time DPOY, as he recovered from COVID-19, him having another extended absence would be something akin to a disaster for this club.

Bogdanovic being out on top of that would just be the proverbial cherry on top.

The Croatian forward was also initially dismissive of his injury situation, saying he was “fine right now,” and that all that had happened was he banged his knee hard against Golden State’s Damion Lee.

However, when asked a follow-up question about his condition, he hedged just a little bit.

“I cannot tell you much right now — it’s right after the game. Tomorrow morning, we’ll know more,” he replied.

Bogdanovic was once again Utah’s most reliable offensive option with Mitchell out, scoring a team-high 21 points. And though he made only 1 of 7 tries from 3-point range, his open look in the final seconds very nearly secured his team a most improbable victory. Alas, given the Jazz’s luck of late, it rimmed in-and-out, and Royce O’Neale’s follow tip-in try could not quite crawl over the rim and into the cylinder.

Coach Quin Snyder said the Jazz could not have asked for a better look.

“Very happy, yeah. Bojan Bogdanovic is as clutch a player as there is in this league,” he said. “… I’m not second-guessing that one.”

Neither was the man who missed.

“I really thought that ball was going in,” said Bogdanovic. “It was in and out, and then we even had an offensive board. So it was unlucky, on both my shot and the tip-in. I had a look that I wanted, and I really saw [it as] the game-winner.”

Not quite.

Now they’ve got another tough game ahead, and perhaps not much firepower at their disposal for it.

Gay, who had a big night with 16 points on 4-of-6 from deep off the bench, said that he’s loved the way the spirit and fire the Jazz have shown of late as they’ve endured a downswing in concert with one player absence after another.

That said, he was already looking ahead to when the team is whole again.

“Everybody’s been out for a little bit, and we’ve still been competitive in playing games, really being in all of them,” Gay said. “[But] it’ll be good to get everybody back and figure out what we can do.”

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