UTAH JAZZ

‘Maniac’ Sexton Ices Nuggets In Jazz Debut

Oct 19, 2022, 11:02 PM | Updated: 11:44 pm
Collin-Sexton-Mike-Conley-Utah-jazz-Denver-Nuggets...
Collin Sexton and Mike Conley chest bump for the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Collin Sexton made good on his four-year, $71 million contract in his first appearance for the Utah Jazz.

The guard scored 20 points off the bench in just 20 minutes, including two critical buckets over a 46 second span to give the Jazz their first win of the season over the Denver Nuggets.

The Jazz saw seven players score in double-digits as they stunned Denver 123-102 and moved to 1-0 on the season.

Hardy Calls Sexton A ‘Maniac’

Sexton had had a relatively quiet start to his Jazz debut, scoring just 14 points in his first 16 minutes of the game.

However, the guard saved his best for last scoring six points over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter including two clutch plays on offense, and a big defensive stop.

First, Sexton drove on Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and hit a pull-up jumper over the seven-foot superstar. On the next play, the guard drew a charge against the two-time reigning MVP before finishing around him on the ensuing possession.

“He made some big plays, that pull-up at the free throw line really settled us down,” coach Will Hardy said. “And that last drive, the will he showed you to the rim and get around Jokic was great, but he’s tough man.”

“I looked at him the time out before he came in and told him, ‘Go do it, go take over,'” Mike Conley said. “We’ll get you the ball and we’re going to get the mismatch if we can, get downhill, and make plays.”

The Jazz did get the mismatch on both plays after the timeout and it allowed Sexton to close the game in a way that few Jazz players have done over the last several seasons.

Hardy credited Sexton’s tenacity with his success to help the Jazz earn the victory.

“If you see him every day, he is a maniac in the gym,” Hardy said. “His work ethic is one of the best that I’ve come across in my time in the NBA.”

Kessler Records Double-Double

Walker Kessler continued his impressive play with the Jazz, seeing his preseason success bleed over into his regular season debut.

The rookie center scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on 5-5 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench.

“We have so many tools and weapons on our team that it’s not very difficult for me to really get open,” Kessler said.

Most of the center’s damage came at the hoop from dump-off passes from the Jazz’s guard who repeatedly beat the Nuggets defenders off the dribble.

“Playing with Mike [Conley] in the pick and roll is like the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kessler said. “The way he’s patient with it and holds off his man, I mean, it’s helped me so much.”

Conley finished with 13 points and eight assists on 3-8 shooting in 32 minutes.

“I just told him to be patient tonight, get guys in the air and finish on the other side of the rim, and he did it,” Conley said of his advice to the rookie. “He really did a good job of just going out there and letting the game come to him.”

Kessler played the sixth-most minutes of any player on the Jazz roster.

Jazz Soak Coach After First Win

Will Hardy didn’t have to wait long to get the water bath celebration after his first win. Jazz players met the coach after he walked into the team’s locker room and soaked him as they presented him with the team ball.

“He was emotional obviously with it being his first win,” Conley said. “We were just so happy for him. We said he deserves it and he’s worked very hard to be here and has given a lot of guys a lot of confidence to go out there and just play the right way and play hard.”

Hardy’s wife Spencer also made an appearance in the media room after the game, but opted against asking a question.

“Pretty cool,” Hardy said after the game. “Pretty cool.”

Next Game

The Jazz now head out on the road for a three-game trip beginning against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, before wrapping up against the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Houston Rockets.

 

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