SALT LAKE CITY — The worst appears to have been avoided.
Following an MRI and clinical evaluation, it was determined that Donovan Mitchell suffered a significant right lower ankle sprain during Utah's win over the Pacers on Friday, the team announced. Mitchell will be re-evaluated in one week.
"Yeah, until he had had the MRI, there were questions," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said when asked if the results brought some relief. "He's focused on his recovery."
At the 8:30 mark in the third quarter on Friday, Mitchell jumped up to try and block an outlet pass from Indiana guard Edmond Sumner. After the pass, Sumner fell backward and his leg whipped out toward Mitchell. That potentially led to Mitchell's awkward landing. When the Jazz star came down after his jump, his ankle rolled under him and he fell to the floor.
Mitchell attempted to get up, but he was unable to put any weight on the leg and had to be helped off the court into the locker room by two teammates.
After the game, Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert both said Mitchell was in "good spirits" and the Jazz's initial diagnosis of a "sprained ankle" brought optimism that it wasn't as serious as it initially appeared.
The MRI confirmed that optimism.
The Jazz still don't know when they will be getting their star scorer back, though. Mitchell is averaging career-high 26.4 points this season on 38.6% shooting from 3-point range. (He's also averaging career highs in rebounds and assists).
Mitchell has been even better than that of late. He averaged 30.0 points per game in April and was averaging 36.8 points in the five games leading up to Friday's. He was on pace to keep that going with 22 points against the Pacers before he left the court.
"It's a challenge for us to play without him and we want to get him back as soon as possible," Snyder said. "He's obviously been been playing great. He's had a great year and as of late, he's been on a really really high level. It puts some other guys in position to be more aggressive and have a greater usage."
Mitchell isn't the only Jazz player nursing some bumps and bruises. Utah will also be without Rudy Gobert (right knee contusion), Mike Conley (right knee soreness) as questionable, and Derrick Favors (right knee soreness) on Saturday. Those aren't expected to be long-term issues.
"We haven't had it like we have tonight obviously with multiple guys out, so that's going to be a challenge for us," Snyder said. "Hopefully, we can try to improve in some other ways until we get Donovan back and then be better when we do."