UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Match Last Year’s Team With 4-1 Record To Open Season

Oct 26, 2022, 10:39 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2022, 3:50 pm

Talen-Horton-Tucker-Utah-Jazz-Will-Hardy...

Utah Jazz wing Talen Horton-Tucker (Photo: Deseret News/Spenser Heaps)

(Photo: Deseret News/Spenser Heaps)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz moved to 4-1 on the season with a 109-101 victory over the Houston Rockets. The win ties this year’s Jazz with last year’s record through five games.

Lauri Markkanen bounced back after a rough night on Monday with a 24 point, eight rebound performance against the Rockets.

Jordan Clarkson added 20 points to go with six rebounds and five assists in the victory.

Markkanen Is Dunking Like A Mad Man

Admittedly, I didn’t know Lauri Markkanen liked the dunk the ball as much as he does. But, it’s possible he’s never cared to dunk it as much as he has this season for the Jazz.

The Finnish forward had four dunks against the Rocket son Wednesday, bringing his dunk total for the season to 13.  Over five games, Markkanen is averaging 2.6 dunks per game.

For a seven-footer, that might not be that impressive, but considering that for his career he’d had only 226 dunks in 282 games prior to joining the Jazz (0.8 dunks per game), it’s a radical spike in production.

In fact, if Markkanen continues to dunk at this rate, and plays all 82 games, he’s nearly double his career dunks by adding 213 more to his total this season.

For context, if Markkanen were to reach 213 dunks for the Jazz, he’d have the 24th most-prolific dunking season in league history, tying noted finishers Shaquille O’Neal and Clint Capela.

At this pace, Markkanen looks like he’ll easily become the second-most prolific dunker in Jazz history behind only Rudy Gobert.

Gobert has five seasons that would beat Markkanen’s projected 213 dunks, but Derrick Favors record of 150 dunks in 2017-18, the most by a Jazzman not named Gobert, is in serious danger.

The key for Markkanen will be health. The sixth-year forward has only played more than 61 games once in his career.

Talen Horton-Tucker Has Breakout Performance

Talen Horton-Tucker had his best game as a Jazzman scoring 14 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out four assists, and recording two steals in 28 minutes off the bench.

The 21-year-old has one of the more unique games in the NBA due to his size and skill set.

At 6-foot-4 and 235-pounds, Horton-Tucker is a load to stay in front of for defenders. The nine-inch difference between his height and 7-foot-1 wingspan is the largest in the NBA, and as he showed with a massive third quarter dunk, his athleticism can be deceptive.

However, he’s not yet a true playmaker, usually only finding teammates after deciding it will be too difficult to find his own shot.

And, his shots rarely come in the flow of the offense as tends to dribble the air in the half-court.

Yet, Horton-Tucker’s production is inarguable, and with the Jazz outscoring Houston by eight in his 28 minutes on the floor, there are signs that it’s not all empty calories.

The Jazz win will turn 22 in late November and at that age, there’s plenty of room for development. It’s not at all far-fetched to think Horton-Tucker could be a serious role player for a championship contender by the end of his career if he can put his full game together.

The question will be how long does it take to find that consistency if he ever does?

Jazz Tie Last Year’s 4-1 Record

This year’s team will not win 49 games and finish with the fifth-best record in the West like last year’s Jazz.

But, through five games, both Jazz teams have the same 4-1 record, and this year’s group has been far more enjoyable to watch.

This Jazz team doesn’t always play pretty basketball, in fact, they’re near the bottom of the NBA in turnovers per game and their 23.4 fouls per game are the sixth-worst in the league.

They’ve also let two teams nearly erase leads of at least 17 points in two of the last three games. Yet, the roster plays hard every night,

The Jazz have only played twice at home this season, but both games resulted in standing ovations from the fan base for a team that has more spirit than it does talent.

This year’s team won’t win 49 games, but “team 49” has been far from a disappointment.

Extras

  • Jarred Vanderbilt has fouled out in both home games this season. His 26 fouls through five games are tied for the fourth-most by a player to begin the season in NBA history.
  • Walker Kessler was shooting 45 percent from the free throw line entering Wednesday’s game but knocked down all four of his attempts against Houston in 11 minutes.
  • The Jazz were second in the NBA in steals per game at 10.6 and finished with 11 against the Rockets.

Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Denver Nuggets on Friday for the second time this season. The game tips off at 7 pm MT in Denver and will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. The game will also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

RELATED ARTICLE: Next up, the Denver Nuggets. 

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Jazz Match Last Year’s Team With 4-1 Record To Open Season