Lauri Markkanen Massacres Grizzlies In Halloween Blowout

Oct 31, 2022, 10:53 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2022, 9:53 pm
Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz blocks Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies (photo: Deseret News, Ben B. Braun)
(photo: Deseret News, Ben B. Braun)

SALT LAKE CITY –Β Lauri Markkanen turned in an All-Star-worthy performance as the Utah Jazz downed the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time in three nights.

Ja Morant returned for the Grizzlies after missing Saturday’s loss to the Jazz and scored 37 points on just 18 shots, but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the game.

With the 121-105 victory the Jazz moved to 6-2 on the season.


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Markkanen Massacres Grizzlies

Markkanen has had higher-scoring performances and better rebounding games, but there’s an argument to make that he’s never had a more complete performance than he did against the Grizzlies.

The Finnish forward dominated both sides of the floor for the Jazz scoring 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while setting a career-high with four blocks.

He also did so while shooting a mega-efficient 11-15 from the floor and 4-6 from the three-point line.

Most impressive however was when Markkanen opted to take over the game.

The Grizzlies opened the third quarter on a 15-9 run to trim their deficit to just 10, feasting off the energy of Dillon Brooks chaotic style of play.

When the Jazz appeared to be on the verge of a total collapse, Markkanen put the team on his back.

The 25-year-old scored 15 points, matching Ja Morant in the quarter while adding five rebounds, a block, a steal, and an assist.

“Lauri was playing at the five and I thought that his ability to drop and protect the basket was very good,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We were able to create some turnovers in that quarter.”

The stretch allowed the Jazz to stem the run, and build a 23 third quarter lead, their biggest of the night.

Markkanen has shown glimpses of his star potential throughout his career, but he’d never laced together his size, shooting, playmaking, and defense over a sustained stretch like he has for the Jazz this season.

“He’s an All-Star,” teammate Malik Beasley said. “I’ve preached that and I want him to get that this year.”

Through eight games, Markkanen has made it clear the Jazz are his team, and he’s led them to a shocking 6-2 start.

Is Jarred Vanderbilt A Three-Point Shooter?

One of the major knocks on Jarred Vanderbilt after the Jazz acquired him in the Rudy Gobert trade was his lack of ability to score outside just plays near the rim.

Even at the hoop, the bouncy big man isn’t as efficient as his shot profile would suggest.

But Hardy and the Jazz have added an intriguing aspect to the forward’s game, giving him the opportunity to shoot corner threes when he’s open.

So far, it has paid off.

Vanderbilt is 4-9 from deep this season, knocking down an impressive 44 percent of his threes, good for second on the team behind Kelly Olynyk.

“We trust Jarred to make the right play,” Hardy said.

It’s a radical change for the Kentucky product who prior to joining the Jazz had knocked down just 3-22 three-attempts in his first four seasons in the NBA.

Vanderbilt is averaging more than one three-point attempt per game this season, up from a total of 22 attempts in 166 appearances.

“We talk about different options that he has in our offense based on our spacing, and one of those options is for him to shoot,” Hardy said. “He’s done a great job, he’s knocking them down.”

The 23-year-old probably won’t ever be even an average NBA scorer, but his rebounding and defensive versatility will keep in him the league for a long time.

However, if he can continue to knock down open threes that the opposing defense seems content to let him shoot, his value will only grow.

Jazz Shooters Are Shooting

It’s hard to imagine that with the Jazz surprising 6-2 start, the team is still getting better.

While Kelly Olynyk’s lights-out three-point shooting (64 percent entering Monday’s game) is destined to drop, Markkaken, Mike Conley, and Malik Beasley are starting to find their stroke.

Markkanen started the season just 8-33 (24 percent) from downtown in his first five games of the season but has connected on nine of his last 21 (38 percent.)

Conley meanwhile shot 6-22 over the first four games of the year but has made 12-20 (60 percent) over the last three games.

Beasley, arguably the Jazz best true shooter, opened the season shooting 10-33 over his first six games, but has since knocked down 8-15 (53 percent) over his last two games.

None of those three players is likely to keep up those types of hot streaks over the remainder of the season, but they’re equally unlikely to drop to the lows they saw to begin the year.

Even with their 6-2 start, the Jazz have only the 15th-best offensive rating in the NBA. If Conley, Markkanen, and Beasley continue to see their shooting numbers rise, their offensive performance will surely climb.

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