Jazz Drop To 1-3 With Preseason Finale Loss

Oct 14, 2022, 10:12 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley drives against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo: Ben B. Braun)
(Photo: Ben B. Braun)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz dropped to 1-3 in preseason play after falling to the Dallas Mavericks 115-101.

Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points to lead the Jazz who hung tough with Dallas through three quarters but saw the Mavericks run away with the game in the fourth.

Here are the key takeaways from the game as the Jazz prepare for the regular season.

Conley, Markkanen Can Keep The Jazz Competetive

The Jazz were able to stay competitive with the Mavericks through three quarters largely due to the talent and experience of Markkanen and Mike Conley.

In Tuesday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs it was painfully obvious the Jazz missed the floor general as Conley rested in the team’s third preseason outing.

The Spurs blew the Jazz out from the opening minutes of the game as they gave up easy baskets to San Antonio off bad offensive possessions.

Against Dallas, Conley’s veteran leadership allowed the Jazz to maintain a steady pace as seven different players recorded first quarter points.

Similarly, Markkanen provides the Jazz with their most potent scoring weapon as the seven-foot forward is a mismatch against most defenders in the NBA.

What was most impressive about Markkanens’s 21 point performance against Dallas was his willingness to attack the paint and score near the rim. The Finnish big man missed both of his three-point attempts but shot 9-11 inside the arc.

As long as Conley and Markkanen are on the floor, the Jazz should have a consistent offensive identity this season.

Jazz Might Struggle To Make Up Deficits

Though the Jazz played the Mavericks tough through three quarters, Dallas opened the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run and essentially ended the game.

Whereas last year the Jazz struggled to maintain big double-digit leads in the second half, this year it appears any double-digit deficits might be a death knell.

While the Jazz have offensive talent in the aforementioned Markkanen and Conley, and Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson can score in bunches, the Jazz may not have enough weapons to stay in games when the opposition goes on a big run.

It is said basketball is a game of runs, the Jazz may find themselves the victim of that old cliche more than the benefactor.

In the season opener against the Toronto Raptors, the Jazz were able to keep the game competitive through the first three quarters but were blown out 32-15 in the third quarter and ultimately lost by 32.

Until the Jazz find a way to combat those runs, they’ll lose a lot of games in just a short moment’s time.

Vanderbilt’s Touch

There is a lot to like about Jarred Vanderbilt’s game. The veteran forward can be a menace on the defensive side of the floor using his impressive frame to jump into passing lanes, grab rebounds, and start the fastbreak with his better-than-advertised ball-handling skills.

However, his offensive game is limited because his touch is nearly non-existent outside of dunks.

Vanderbilt is best in the dunker spot on the offensive side of the ball where he can catch the ball on easy dump-offs from his teammates for shots at the rim. Unfortunately, even when he does catch the ball, finishing is no guarantee.

The forward shot 4-9 at the rim against Dallas, with only one shot coming outside of the restricted area.

If the Kentucky product can develop that touch around the rim he’ll be a far more dynamic player. If not, he may struggle to see the floor at key moments.

No Obvious Signs Of Who Will Make Roster

The Jazz have 16 players under contract and must trim that number to 15 by opening night. Based purely on performance, it’s hard to say who deep in the Jazz rotation has truly separated themselves during the preseason.

Stanley Johnson received his third DNP-CD of the preseason against the Mavericks and was waived soon after the game ended.

Leandro Bolmaro also appeared in only one game during the preseason, though it was only in throwaway minutes against Portland.

Jared Butler also didn’t see the floor against Dallas, but his play in the team’s scrimmage and against the Spurs was likely enough to earn a roster spot.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker got plenty of run during the preseason but did little to prove he’d grown since last season, while Udoka Azubuike continues to rehab from his ankle injury.

Barring a trade in the next few days, the Jazz are going to have to cut young talent from the roster without getting a large sample size to see what they can do.

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