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Mike Conley, Rudy Gay progressing in rehabbing injuries as Jazz wade through losing streak

The Jazz have struggled since Conley suffered an injury, but that’s not all that’s ailing the team

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Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, left, sits on the bench during game against the Detroit Pistons at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, left, sits on the bench during game against the Detroit Pistons at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Detroit won 125-116.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz have lost five consecutive games, and it’s likely not a coincidence that those are the games in which Mike Conley has been sidelined because of injury.

But when the Los Angeles Clippers visit Vivint Arena on Wednesday night for the third of four 2022-23 contests against the Jazz, Conley likely will not be in the lineup.

While Conley was seen at practice on Tuesday, going through some light shooting, he has not practiced with the team nor done any contact drills since he injured his left knee (popliteus strain) on Nov. 19.

The Jazz announced Tuesday that Conley has “progressed to running and has incorporated on court movements with shooting,” and that he “will continue daily rehab and treatments.” He remains day-to-day.

“We’re hopeful that soon he’s going to be back with us,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “He’s in really good spirits and feels good about where he’s at in the process. So hopefully, not too long.”

While the team is hopeful that Conley’s absence won’t be prolonged, they know he’ll have to go through the normal return-to-play steps of adding in contact drills and playing in scrimmages before being ready for a full NBA game.

Rudy Gay, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15 because of a sprain in his left hand (third MCP joint sprain), looks to be closer to a return.

“Rudy Gay has progressed to on-court ball handling, shooting and has taken part in portions of practice,” read a statement from the Jazz. “He will progress as tolerated.”

Gay was a noncontact partial participant in Tuesday’s practice and went through some light warmups prior to Monday night’s Jazz loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Though Gay has not had as much of an on-court impact on the Jazz’s success this season as Conley has had, the Jazz could still use his experience and wisdom in some of the tough moments they’ve been experiencing.

Conley though, would clearly provide some know-how in the situations, which the Jazz have struggled with in the last five games, namely late, close-game situations. But the Jazz are going to have to learn to survive without Conley and Hardy believes that the team has the necessary tools to do so.

“I wouldn’t say it’s all because Mike’s not with us,” he said. “Of course we would love to have Mike out there, but the group that we have is fully capable of executing in those moments.”

Utah Jazz small forward Rudy Gay (22) reverse dunks the ball as the Utah Jazz play in a scrimmage game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Utah Jazz small forward Rudy Gay reverse dunks as the Utah Jazz play in a scrimmage game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News