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For the third time in his young NBA career, Udoka Azubuike is looking at an extended period rehabbing from a right ankle injury.

On Thursday night in Frisco, Texas, playing against the Texas Legends while on assignment with the Salt Lake City Stars, Azubuike suffered an injury to the same ankle that has previously kept him out for months.

The plan is for Azubuike to join the Jazz in San Antonio and then fly back to Utah with the team to undergo further testing as well as an MRI on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury.

“You’re crushed and everyone in our locker room and our staff felt that,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said on Friday night. “You can imagine how he must feel.”

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Azubuike’s first right ankle injury, a severe sprain, happened in the opening game of the G League bubble in Orlando in his rookie season and kept him sidelined for more than two months.

Despite the lack of playing time, the Jazz picked up the third-year option on Azubuike’s rookie contract, believing that he could still develop into a useful player. But just a few weeks after picking up that option, Azubuike was again sidelined when he suffered a subluxation of his right ankle in a game with the Stars, an injury that could indicate weakness and stretching of the ligaments around the ankle.

Azubuike again spent weeks rehabbing before finally returning to action and being given an opportunity to step in and help the Jazz this season. He started multiple games for the Jazz when Rudy Gobert was sidelined with a calf injury and played significant minutes as the Jazz navigated players not being available because of the league health and safety protocols.

Just as it was seeming that he had begun to gain confidence and was developing into something more than a young and raw player, Azubuike will likely have another extended rehab period ahead of him.

“We’ll know more when they dig down deeper into the MRI and those things, but it’s just gut-wrenching for him,” Snyder said. “It has a big impact on our team, a big impact on our team.”

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Stat of the week

Bojan Bogdanovic sat out on Friday night at San Antonio with a right lower leg contusion. But in the three games that preceded the minor injury, Bogdanovic shot an incredible 60% from 3-point range and 61.4% overall, averaging 27.7 points per game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers.

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This week in Jazz history

On March 11, 2020, Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19. Shortly after his positive test came through, the Utah Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder that night was canceled and the NBA suspended the 2019-20 NBA season.

Extra points

  • Analysis: Jazz cough up lead as Gregg Popovich becomes winningest coach in NBA history (Deseret News)
  • Rudy Gobert says Mavs bench crossed a line in already emotional game (Deseret News)
  • Jazz donate housing to Ukrainian refugees (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Juancho Hernangomez on his role in upcoming Adam Sandler movie (KSL.com)

Around the league

The New York Knicks’ Cam Reddish is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

The Phoenix Suns are the first NBA team this season to clinch a playoff berth.

Zion Williamson rejoins New Orleans Pelicans after months away from team.

Up next

March 12 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Sacramento Kings | AT&T SportsNet

March 14 | 7:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks | ESPN

March 16 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls | AT&T SportsNet

March 18 | 7:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers | AT&T SportsNet