The Utah Jazz — wobbling down the stretch run of the regular season — will get a much-needed boost in Thursday night’s game with the visiting Los Angeles Lakers, as forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Danuel House will make their respective returns to action.
Bogdanovic has missed nine consecutive games, and 10 of Utah’s past 11, with a left calf strain. House, meanwhile, has been out for Utah’s past eight games, after suffering a left knee bone bruise just seven minutes into the Jazz’s loss against Milwaukee on March 14.
Both players addressed the media after Thursday morning’s shootaround at Zions Bank Basketball Campus, and confirmed they will be available Thursday night against the Lakers — a game the Jazz will be desperate to win, considering they come in on a five-game losing streak.
“Yeah, I’ll play tonight — I don’t know how much, but I’ll be available,” Bogdanovic said.
“I’m feeling fantastic right now, can’t complain,” House added with a wide grin. “Yes, I’ll be available tonight. Like Bogey said, I don’t know how it’s going to happen, I just know I’m available.”
The Croatian noted that he’s been ramping up his activity in recent practices and shootarounds, as he’s been rehabbing the calf pushing himself to improve his conditioning.
“I’m feeling way better,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good and pretty confident right now.”
Even if both players are on a minutes restriction, their return nevertheless will be a help against a Lakers team which has already knocked off the Jazz twice this season, but which also comes in depleted and struggling.
L.A. has lost three games in a row, and seven of its past 10 in dropping to 10th place in the Western Conference — half a game ahead of the Spurs for the final play-in spot.
Star forward LeBron James had already been ruled out of playing vs. the Jazz due to aggravating a left ankle sprain, and wound up leaving the Lakers’ road trip to return home for additional treatment.
Meanwhile, forward Anthony Davis, out since Feb. 16 with a foot sprain, is technically listed as “doubtful” against the Jazz, but multiple reports have said the Lakers are targeting Friday’s home game against the Pelicans as his likely return. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited sources in reporting that Davis is out against Utah, and will be a game-time decision Friday vs. his former team, New Orleans.
Bogdanovic noted that it’s always tough for him to miss games, regardless of how the team is performing without him. That said, he recognizes that his return can “help the team get a better feeling before heading into the postseason.”
He added that, from what he saw while he was out, he doesn’t believe the Jazz were playing that poorly, and that the combination of a packed schedule and tough opponents have augmented a few mistakes and led to the losing streak.
He echoed the words of head coach Quin Snyder in saying that health remains the primary issue for this team (Donovan Mitchell has been battling a tweaked ankle, backup center Hassan Whiteside remains out with a right foot sprain, and backup point guard Trent Forrest is in the concussion protocol), but added that when everyone is good to go, they believe they are good enough to beat any team in the league.
Getting the 6-foot-7 Bogdanovic (18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 39.2% 3-point shooting) back will bolster the frontcourt, while the return of the 6-6 House (6.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 44.6% on 3s in 19 games with Utah) will help the team’s wing depth and perimeter defense.
It’s not everything the Jazz need, but it’s a start.