HANGTIME SOUTHWEST — On Wednesday morning, Utah Jazz point guard Mo Williams impatiently waited for news from the doctor about his injured right thumb. Unable to twiddle his thumbs, he used his fingers to express his anxiousness on Twitter:
He felt like his thumb was getting better, so he hoped like heck the doc would ring in the new year with good news. Last thing he wanted was another thumb surgery like he had in 2008.
And then word came down Wednesday evening as the Jazz dressed in their home locker room in preparation to play the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Surgery. And it will cost Williams six to eight weeks, pinning a return perhaps some time around the All-Star break in mid-February.
After a night to absorb the news, Williams again took to Twitter:
But what about the Jazz, a team that’s teetered around the .500 mark all season, slipping in and out of the top eight? How will they respond to losing their starting point guard, who is averaging 12.9 points, a team-high 6.7 assists and had dramatically improved his 3-point shooting in December to 37.6 percent?
Williams sprained his right thumb on Dec. 22 against Miami. Utah was 1-3 without him entering Wednesday’s game.
“We came in and were focused. Everybody is a little heartbroken about Mo, but we know he’s going to be all right,” said big man Derrick Favors after the Jazz put together a complete effort in waxing the Wolves 106-84. “We just came out there and played like he was with us.”
Williams, traded from the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers during the offseason, chimed in on Twitter after the win that pushed Utah to 16-17, one game out of the eighth spot:
It’s one thing to lose a key starter for a few games, but to make due for more than a month could set up a catastrophic turn of events. Jamaal Tinsley, who has started in Williams’ place the last five games, will continue to do so.
“We just wanted to go out there and play hard for 48 minutes. It’s the situation we are in, knowing we have Mo out,” said Tinsley, who had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, plus six rebounds and three assists Wednesday night. “We just have to go out there and play hard no matter who we play for 48 minutes and give ourselves a chance to win.”
It won’t be easy with Utah hitting the road for five of the next six games. At 6-13 away from the friendly confines of EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz start things off with a back-to-back Friday at Phoenix and then Saturday at Denver. The lone home game in the stretch is against a desperate Dallas club that appears to be getting better with the return of Dirk Nowitzki. A road three-pack follows at Charlotte, Atlanta and Detroit.
If the Jazz can get through those games in decent shape, they stand a good chance to finish January strong with six of their final seven in the month at home.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after Wednesday’s win. “We can’t look around the corner and see what’s going to happen. This is who we have and we have to figure out how we can be as good as we can be with this group right now.”