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Jazzmen Stepping Up In Absence Of Injured Players

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz forward Jae Crowder (99) embrace during the final moments of the game against the Detroit Pistons at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. The Utah Jazz beat the Detroit Pistons 100-94. (Silas Walker, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz have a four-game winning streak, and went 7-2 in the last nine games. They’re also three games over .500 for the first time this season, but are the Utah Jazz the team we all expected them to be at this point?

Winning feels better, but the injury bug has hit the team.

The organization said Tuesday night that Dante Exum was still battling with the ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Point guard Ricky Rubio, power forward Thabo Sefolosha, and guard Raul Neto will be reevaluated next week.

This means the Utah Jazz are still without a starting point guard. Well, all except for Donovan Mitchell. The sophomore has been playing the position this last week and put up such impressive stats that he earned his first Player of the Week award.

Spida averaged 31.5 points and dished out 5.75 assists per game overall last week. His highest point totals came against the Lakers Friday, scoring 33, and then the next night put up 34 points against the Bulls.

The star was a +20 along with Rudy Gobert in a six-point victory over the Detroit Pistons Monday as well.

KSL’s Unrivaled hosts point out that the team has more wins now than last year’s team at this point of the season. But they pose the question, have they won over your hearts?

Host Scott Mitchell says he can at least say this recent run has taught us a lot about this team.

“These injuries and the inconsistency has actually been quite a blessing,” Scott Mitchell said. “Grayson Allen is a guy who was never going to see the court and all of a sudden he has started to show some signs of life. A lot of it is just about opportunity, to be honest.”

The hosts believe it has been a big benefit to Donovan Mitchell as well. With all the injuries, the Jazz’s sophomore has been asked to do more.

“You were being asked to take over everything,” host Alex Kirry said. “That’s exactly what Donovan Mitchell’s done.”

Kirry said he is also doing the thing that Scott Mitchell has asked the second-year player all season.

“That is taking over games,” said Kirry. “You’ve seen him taking over these games. He’s been doing these plays that makes you breathe a sigh of relief if you’re a Jazz fan.”

Both hosts said they’re interested in this depth that the injuries have created. It has forced others to play minutes and share responsibilities.

Sometimes you see Jae Crowder or Joe Ingles bring the ball up the floor as well. Players being put in spots they weren’t necessarily expected to be in.

“When the other injured players get back, it makes the Jazz so much stronger,” Scott Mitchell said.

Listen to KSL’s Unrivaled for free, wherever you get your podcasts, or on the KSL Newsradio App.