The Jazz needed a win in the worst way and got the job done with the help of some efficient shooting from their starting five. Collectively, the Jazz starters shot 60% from the field and 52% from long distance.
Utah has been getting the short end of the stick on a number of back-to-backs as of late, but on this night, it was a well-rested squad taking advantage of a weary Clippers team playing its third game in four nights to get the victory.
What did we learn in Utah’s big win? Let's break it down.
Jazz Not in Tank Mode
Any thoughts that the Jazz were going to start tanking games at this stage can be put to bed.
Head coach Will Hardy played the hot hands all night and shortened the rotation as if it was a playoff game. Clarkson led all players with a season-high 40 minutes on the court, while Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk saw 36 minutes of action. Hardy dished on why he kept the starters on the court in the post-game press conference.
“We were trying to win and I thought those guys had good mojo tonight," Hardy said. “It was just a feel thing. Nobody necessarily did anything wrong or terrible. It was just I thought that group was playing very well. And I thought it was really important we come out of tonight with a win.”
Rookie Walker Kessler Takes on Bigger Role
Kessler showed Jazz fans on Wednesday night why he’s been a permanent fixture in the rotation as a rookie. The 2022 first-round pick was acquired in the Rudy Gobert trade and had four blocks in just 22 minutes of action on Wednesday night, while altering a handful of shots in the process.
Hardy spoke on Kessler's defensive premise.
“It’s pretty amazing what Walker is able to do at this stage in his career," Hardy said. “We’ve talked about it a lot but it can’t be over-emphasized, his ability to block shots with both hands. A lot of players around the rim, verticality is a big thing in the NBA, so guys sort of jump straight up and they aren’t really looking at anything. Walker has an unbelievable ability to be straight up and follow the ball with his eyes, and at the end, get the ball with whatever hand is on that side.”
Collin Sexton Plays Best Game as Jazzman
Acquired in the Donovan Mitchell trade, Utah's backup point guard's performance has been uneven since Mike Conley went down with a knee injury, but against the Clippers, Sexton stood out by contributing 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting while dishing out six assists.
If the Jazz want to stay on the winning track, Sexton will need to be more than just a scorer in Conley’s absence. Sexton getting experience as the main facilitator during this stretch could go a long way to his growth as a player moving forward.
Make Hay During This Homestand
Utah can make up for its tough schedule out of the gates in the next four games. It won't be easy, but winning three is plausible and would get them back to a trending playoff team.
Parity in the NBA is at an all-time high, and playing .500 basketball this year is going to get you in the play-in game. As it stands now, Utah is only 3.5 games out of first place, but also one game from missing the play-in game altogether.
The Jazz will be the favored team in their next game when they face the Indiana Pacers on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
Subscribe on YouTube for breaking Jazz news videos and live-stream podcasts!