A lineup change opens up the offense for the Utah Jazz.
The Utah Jazz went into their game against the Indiana Pacers tonight, and fans held their collective breath, hoping the Jazz wouldn’t be blown out. Walker Kessler was missing due to an elbow injury, and rookie Keyonte George was the beneficiary – getting his first NBA start.
The Jazz jumped out to a 29-19 lead as the Utah Jazz played crisp offense, making the extra pass and working together defensively.
Jordan Clarkson led the way with 9 first-quarter points for the Jazz, while Lauri Markkanen had 7.
Indiana responded by the end of the 1st to tie things up as Myles Turner took full advantage of Walker Kessler’s absence.
In the 2nd quarter, Simone Fontecchio entered and had a cut finger shortly afterward. He responded with 10 points (including two three-pointers) to help the Jazz keep pace as Indiana started to step things up, leading 67-60 at the half.
The third quarter saw the Utah Jazz start with an 8-2 run before Tyrese Haliburton decided to remind everyone why he’s an All-Star – scoring 14 points in the quarter. The Jazz responded by outscoring Indiana 18-14 over the last 4 minutes to trail 101-98 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th, the Pacers again stepped up the pace and outscored the Jazz 26-15 as the Jazz went cold from the field.
By the end, there were too many isolation plays, too many turnovers (21, which led to 26 Indiana points), and not enough interior defense. The Pacers ended up beating the Utah Jazz by a 134-118 score.
A few thoughts:
Keyonte George played well in his first start, with 7 points, 9 assists, and only 1 turnover in 30 minutes. He showed poise at times, was tentative to shoot but overall acquitted himself well.
The floor spacing was better for the Jazz as they went 47% from the floor, 40% from 3.
The Jazz contested the perimeter much better than in recent games. Indiana still got 41 shots from distance, but only made 13 of them (31.7%)
Though the Jazz had several players with foul trouble, they only had 17 total on the night.
Jordan Clarkson returned to his flamethrowing ways, with 33 points on 12-26 shooting, 5 assists, but 6 turnovers. When he was the off-ball guy the Jazz played well. When he dominated the ball, they struggled.
Lauri Markkanen had 24 points, 9 rebounds, and a blocked shot but should have been more involved offensively – only 16 shots.
Kris Dunn had 7 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, and no turnovers in 12 minutes. He needs more time and opportunities.
A tough loss for the Jazz after hanging with the Pacers for 3 quarters. But there are good things they can take from this as they head to Memphis for their opener of the In-Season Tournament.