'It was hard for him to watch': Bojan Bogdanovic, sprained ankle and all, leads Jazz to victory

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SALT LAKE CITY — Bojan Bogdanovic sat at his locker, his feet soaking in a large yellow mop bucket of ice.

He was fresh off his best performance in a Jazz jersey, scoring 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting and knocking down five threes in Utah’s win over Sacramento. It was a performance that made it look like the ankle sprain that kept him out of Friday’s loss to the Lakers was just a memory — and then, he got up.

Bogdanovic stepped out of the ice and gingerly limped out of sight. He was still feeling the effects of the sprain. His ankle was still in pain, but he may have felt more having to watch another game from the sideline.

“I was sore yesterday and then this morning when I woke up, it felt better,” he said. “So I decided to play. I couldn’t watch another game on TV.”

And if he was going to play, he was going to play. There was no hesitation from Bogdanovic. In the first five minutes, he had already scored 10 points and had made three strong drives into the paint for buckets to help get there. If his ankle was hurting, he wasn’t letting it show.

“I think it was hard for him to watch last night just knowing that he could impact the game,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “His teammates felt that too.”

Saying Bogdanovic impacted the game, is putting mildly. He dominated the first half. He was 9 of 14 from the field, made four 3-pointers (with the crowd growing louder and louder after each one) and scored 23 points to lead an explosive Jazz offense.

“He might need to take another couple of games off if he is going to come back like that every time,” Mike Conley quipped.“He’s a big piece. When he is hot, he’s hot. We kept finding him and guys were being really unselfish and finding the hot hand, so it was fun to watch him tonight.”

Bogdanovic credited that ball movement and his teammates for his big game.

“I think every shot (for me) tonight was a wide-open three,” Bogdanovic said. “That shows how unselfish we are. We are looking for good to great — a guy with a good shot is passing the ball to a guy with a great shot.”

On Saturday, any shot taken by the Croatian forward seemed like a great one. Even one he released near the center court logo. When that one splashed in, Bogdanovic high-kneed down back down the court as part of a celebration dance.

“Man, it is awesome to see him so happy to just be back,” Donovan Mitchell said. “He creates and does a lot of things off the ball, get into the paint and draws a lot of attention to make it easier for us, then on top of that he can get to the rim, finish, and, obviously, he can shoot."

All things they lacked on Friday in the loss to the Lakers. All things they got on Saturday in an easy win.

After the game, Bogdanovic got to experience a Jazz ritual — well, at least a Mitchell ritual — for the first time. As Bogdanovic was doing a walk-off interview with Jazz sideline reporter Kristen Kenney, Mitchell came up from behind and poured water all over his head.

“He’ll have more of those interviews than me, so I’ll get him back for sure,” Bogdanovic said.

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