Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Ed Davis #17 of the Utah Jazz looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 25, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Shootaround notebook: Ed Davis returns from injury; Q&A with Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder

by Aaron Falk

MEMPHIS — It was Mike Conley’s homecoming to the Bluff City that dominated the headlines last time the Utah Jazz were here. This time around, it’s the return of Ed Davis.

Four weeks after fracturing his left fibula, Davis was ready to play in Friday’s game against his old club, the Memphis Grizzlies.

“It’s going to be huge,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said.“Just his toughness, his experience, all the things he does that you don’t see on the box score. His impact is huge. People don’t realize it, I think, but we realize. As soon as he went down, we knew everything was going to be a little tougher for us and that’s what happened.”

Davis has missed games due to injuries in his career, but this was the first time he’d missed this much time during a season.

“It was a grind. Working out 2-3 times a day, getting treatment around the clock,” he said. “It’s like my first time being hurt [for an extended period] during a season for me, so it was a little different. But I’m glad it’s over with and I can get out there tonight and help the team.”

The Jazz have lost the first two games of this five-game road trip and are happy to add Davis’ skillset to their bench depth the rest of the way.

“The thing about what Ed brings is the consistency of competitiveness,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “Rebounding. Unselfishness. More than anything, he’s going to do whatever the team needs to him to do to win.”

Davis hasn’t played since Nov. 1. But Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said the veteran has stayed ready.

“He’s been engaged,” the coach said. “Sometimes in a personal, quiet way, where he grabs somebody on the side and says something, sometimes more demonstrative. But he’s kept himself mentally ready.”

“I had to stay engaged and stay involved,” Davis said. “Because when my number is called, I want to be ready and a lot of this stuff is mental. You know, the mental side of it for me was to stay engaged, try to help Tony out or whoever else I can, so it was like I was still playing.”

LOOKIN’ BACK

Speaking of Conley’s return to Memphis earlier this month, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at a hectic and emotional day for the point guard, who spent his first 12 NBA seasons with the Grizzlies.

Q&A WITH JAE CROWDER 

Jae Crowder was a locker room favorite during his two seasons with the Jazz. UtahJazz.com caught up with the Grizzlies forward after shootaround on Friday morning. 

You’ve played tough against some good teams over the past week. How is your squad coming together?

CROWDER: We’ve come out on the losing end, so obviously we’re not where we want to be but we’re figuring it out. We’re competing at a high level and trying to do what it takes to win games. At this level, with a young team, it’s just hard to win games. We’re learning from our losses and wins and trying to build every day.”

Do you stay in touch with any of your former teammates in Utah?

CROWDER: Pretty much all of them. Donovan, obviously. Joe. Georges. We still have a group chat with Ricky [Rubio]. Nothing’s changed. Our communication has been the same. Friendship is for a lifetime. I’m happy to be friends with those guys and I’m happy to be able to compete against them now.

Is Joe as cranky in the group chat as he is online?

CROWDER: He’s more laid back. He don’t see me every day. He probably misses me a little bit. 

What did Coach Snyder mean to you?

CROWDER: He just gave me a mindset that added on to fueling my fire. To always compete at a high level and always embrace wherever you’re at in life. He gave me a role on that team and I’m appreciative of him. I’ve told him that personally. I appreciate him believing in me, believing in my effort and coaching me the way that he coached me.

You’ve helped mentor two young stars in Donovan Mitchell and Ja Morant. Do you see any similarities in their approach to the game?

CROWDER: Yeah. They’re both fearless, both fearless competitors. They want to do anything to win games. They’re laying it out on the line each and every night at a young age. It’s big. It’s been fun to be a part of it and see them grow and have them ask questions of me. I can be a big brother to Ja. It’s the same role I had with Donovan. I just told Ja to watch film. Donovan did a great job those first two years of watching a lot of film, trying to get better each and every game. When Ja does that … he’ll be a superstar.”

Have you seen changes to Donovan’s game this year?

CROWDER: He’s been more of a facilitator. He’s doing a good job of picking and choosing when he can shoot the ball. I still feel like he’s the finisher on the team. He’s going to take the shot. But at the end of the day, he’s doing a good job of putting his teammates in positions to help him out. That’s key in a grueling regular season.

What are the keys to tonight’s game? 

CROWDER: The Jazz are a great defensive team. They’re top of the defensive ratings. We’ve got to do a good job of not turning the ball over and limiting them to one shot. They do a good job of rebounding. Rudy killed us last game. And we want to push the tempo. We want to get out and run against these guys.”

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