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Jazz notes: Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood begin return to practice

Utah Jazz guard Joe Johnson (6) celebrates his three pointer with Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The Jazz won  106-96.
Utah Jazz guard Joe Johnson (6) celebrates his three pointer with Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks (10) in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The Jazz won 106-96.
Jeffrey D. Allred,

SALT LAKE CITY — In the middle of a big break in action before they play the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night on the road, the Utah Jazz on Monday held a practice at Zions Bank Basketball Center that lasted a shade over two hours.

The team made good progress on the injury front, as both Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood went through the non-contact practice. Johnson has been out since Nov. 1 because of a hand injury, while Hood has missed the last six games because of foot soreness.

On the downside, Raul Neto did not practice, as he is going through the NBA’s concussion protocol after he got hit Saturday night by Milwaukee Bucks big man Thon Maker.

All three players’ status will be updated prior to the game Wednesday.

Coming off three straight losses, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said Monday’s work centered around watching a good portion of Saturday’s game, which saw Utah get behind early and come back within two in the second quarter only to falter in the third.

“There’s not a lot of magic,” Snyder said. “Just taking care of the ball, being solid, running back (on defense). If you don’t do those fundamental things, you put yourself in a tough position.”

The Jazz lost the first and third quarters Saturday by a combined 18 points in a 17-point loss.

“The guys that started the game obviously have to take responsibility for that,” wing Joe Ingles said specifically of the first six minutes, as Utah fell into an 18-5 deficit. “It just gave us a lot harder chance for the rest of the game.”

HOSPITAL VISITS: Right after practice on Monday afternoon, the team made its annual pre-Christmas visit to local children’s hospitals, mingling with patients at Primary Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children-Salt Lake City.

Besides the opportunity in general to brighten the kids’ day, Snyder said he likes the fact that the visit always comes during the holiday season specifically.

“I think the fact that it comes at this time of the year when we’re all reflective with holidays about family and giving and fortune, there’s just a lot of things that make you think about how fortunate we are in many respects to have the opportunities and the advantages that we have,” he said. “We’ll all meet with a level of adversity. You gain inspiration from those children that have been handed that and how they deal with it. A lot of courage.”

EKPE’S BOOK CLUB: It’s been well told at this point how Jazz big man Ekpe Udoh has conducted via Twitter book club discussions for the last few years, selecting a book and then on a chosen night, tweeting out questions for his followers who have read the book to talk about.

On Monday night, he held a book club in person at the Zions Bank Basketball Center, where the group discussed “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.

Back on Nov. 29, Udoh announced via Twitter that he would be hosting a discussion in Salt Lake City, and, as is his custom, the first 25 people to sign up to attend through a link Udoh posted received a copy of the book via Amazon.

On Monday, about 20 of those people showed up for an hour-long discussion with Udoh about the first part of the book (he will be holding two more discussions later this month).

“It was a good time,” said Bentley Mitchell, one of the attendees. “Ekpe’s a very smart guy and very good with everybody there, so it was a fun experience.”

TREY BURKE RECOGNIZED: Former Utah Jazz lottery pick Trey Burke has been playing very well throughout the season for the G League’s Westchester Knicks, and on Monday he was named the league’s Performer of the Week for last week’s games.

In four games (three wins), Burke averaged 31.3 points per game. For the season, he is second in the league in scoring at 25.6 points per contest.