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Deseret News - Jazz could be more shorthanded as Lauri Markkanen added to injury report


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Sarah Todd

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Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) drives past Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Phoenix.

Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

The Utah Jazz have already been operating without their full compliment of players but they could be even more shorthanded on Monday when the Chicago Bulls visit Vivint Arena.

Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz’s leading scorer, is listed as questionable for Monday night’s game with a right knee contusion.

The injury occurred at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns, when Markkanen drove toward the basket for a layup and collided with Suns center Deandre Ayton.

After the play, Markkanen was limping and favoring the right leg but never left the game. The Jazz eventually fell to the Suns, 113-112.

Here's the play where Markkanen and Ayton hit knees. Markkanen was limping for a bit after this but stayed in the game. He's listed as questionable (right knee contusion) for Monday's Jazz game vs. Bulls pic.twitter.com/E4t14NYUU3

— Sarah Todd (@NBASarah) November 28, 2022

The Jazz are currently on a four-game losing streak, a skid that began after Mike Conley was sidelined with a left knee injury. The Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers the night that Conley suffered the injury, but since then the team has lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and Suns.

Conley has already been ruled out for Monday’s game. Additionally, Rudy Gay has been out since Nov. 15 and is set to be reevaluated later this week for a finger sprain in his left hand, but he’ll also be out on Monday night.

Further down the roster Leandro Bolmaro, who spent some time with the SLC Stars, is questionable as he continues in the NBA concussion protocol and two-way player Johnny Juzang suffered a wrist sprain while playing with the Stars and is out.

The Jazz have been navigating playing without Conley by experimenting with Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker and Nickeil Alexander-Walker in different situations. Though all three of the young players have shown flashes of growth, Conley’s experience and expertise have been felt, especially in clutch situations.

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey pointed to Conley as one of the reasons that the Jazz have been so successful this season.

“I didn’t believe the hype of a (complete) rebuild,” Casey said last week. “Because you have Michael Conley, who is an All-Star, who still can play, who is a quarterback and one of the best point guards in our league.”

Though Conley’s scoring production is at one of the lower points in his career, he is averaging a career-high 7.9 assists per game this season with a career-tying low for turnovers per game at 1.5.

The Jazz, who have played 14 of their first 22 games on the road will start their first major home stand of the season on Monday and although being at home for eight of the next nine games will be a huge relief for the Jazz, the schedule will not be easy, especially if Markkanen misses any time.

The Finnish 7-footer is having a break out season, averaging career-highs in points, assists, and overall field-goal percentage and has earned considerable All-Star buzz through the early days of the 2022-23 season.

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