EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Jae Crowder planning to play through lingering wrist injury for Suns

Feb 1, 2022, 1:09 PM | Updated: 1:43 pm
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to an injury during the second half of the NBA game agai...
Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to an injury during the second half of the NBA game against the Indiana Pacers at Footprint Center on January 22, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pacers 113-103. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder has felt his fair share of pain on a basketball court but the way he reacted after a fall in a Jan. 22 win over the Indiana Pacers meant it was a different type of pain.

Crowder finished a layup in transition and had the type of awkward movement through the air where something could potentially go wrong, and it did. He stayed on the ground, visibly in discomfort before getting up and jogging straight off the court, through the tunnel and to the locker room.

“I’m thinking, ‘Uh oh. I gotta go get an x-ray. Right now,’” Crowder said after shootaround on Tuesday. “Because it scared me a little bit. My hand got caught behind me in a funny way. Didn’t break anything but I just felt pain so I wanted to get it checked out immediately.”

There was reason to be worried given the way Crowder reacted. He is among the many guys on the Suns who will take a hit somewhere that looked like it really, really sucked and briefly give you an idea of what’s hurting before playing it off. Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton do this all the time. They are an extremely tough group.

So when something indicates this is not one of those moments, like when Bridges ran off the floor in Golden State after dislocating his right pinky finger, there is a valid cause for concern.

The update on Crowder was fortunate, a day-to-day assessment with a left wrist contusion. Crowder revealed on Tuesday that it was a sprain and strain for a few ligaments in that wrist but was a situation where the MRI showed there was not any significant structural damage.

Crowder’s missed four games and is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. He’s been maintaining his conditioning and able to participate on the court because the injury is on his non-shooting hand.

With that in mind, Crowder said this is not the type of pain that went away with a quick snap of the fingers after sitting out for a week-plus.

“Honestly, it’s not getting tremendously better.” he said. “It’s just gradually, slowly getting better, so I think it’s one of those things where I’m going to have to play with a little sprain right now. … It’s one of those deals where it’s not going away no time soon. It’s going to be lingering for a minute, so I gotta get my mind around that.”

As far as the pain Crowder experiences in his wrist, he said it comes down to his range of motion. He doesn’t feel much unless he’s moving that wrist around or picking something up.

The Suns will only have nine available bodies on Tuesday if Crowder and Deandre Ayton (right ankle sprain), who is also listed as questionable, do not play. With how many guys have been out, that made Crowder change his mindset.

“It’s one of those things where the past few days I’ve had to put my mind around just playing with it,” he said. “I didn’t want to. I wanted to try and get all the way healthy as much as possible but we keep dropping bodies left and right.”

His return will be a welcome one to a wing rotation that has had Mikal Bridges playing 40.3 minutes per game in the four that Crowder has sat out, with Cam Johnson’s 37.0 minutes a night not that far behind.

The Suns take on the Nets at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Tune to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station for all the action.

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