UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Are No Fluke, Get 10th Win With Victory Over Hawks

Nov 9, 2022, 9:16 PM

Utah-Jazz-Lauri-Markkanen...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen drives to the hoop (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz proved they’re one of the best teams in the NBA beating the Atlanta Hawks 125-119.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with a season-high 32 points, spearhreading five Jazz players who finished in double digits.

With the victory, the Jazz became the first team in the NBA to reach the 10-win mark.

There’s Nothing Flukey About The Jazz Success

It’s probably time to readjust the expectations about how the Jazz will fare this season.

After an offseason overhaul that saw the Jazz trade away two All-Stars and four of their five starters for a flurry of draft picks and unproven players, it was fair to believe that the team was comfortable entering a full rebuild.

But the rebuild never showed up.

The team opened the season 3-0. That was fun, but hardly a reliable sample size.

They then moved to 6-2. Strong, but there was still doubt about whether opposing teams were simply overlooking the Jazz.

Now at 10-3, the Jazz are running out of questions that need to be answered.

Markkanen was brilliant once again as he continues to show he’s elevated his game to an All-Star level.

Before the season, one of the main questions that plagued the Jazz was how they would overcome the talent discrepancy at the top of their roster. Take a quick look at the schedule and it seemed apparent the opposition would have the best player on the floor most nights.

Markkanen has flipped that narrative on its head.

The Finnish forward was the best player on the floor against an Atlanta roster that has proven All-Stars in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

And he was the best player on the floor against the Lakers twice over the last week in games that featured LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that Markkanen has been the best player on the floor in at least half of the Jazz outings this year on a schedule that’s been front-loaded with All-Stars and playoff teams.

Behind Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson has developed into a well-rounded offensive weapon. The former Sixth Man of the Year has become a steady playmaker and scorer in the Jazz backcourt, scoring 18.2 points per game and handing out a career-high 5.2 assists per game.

The veteran guard scored 23 points and handed out five assists against Atlanta.

Clarkson has now scored 20 points or more in each of the Jazz’s last five games, and has handed out at least five assists in nine of the team’s 13 outings.

Mike Conley’s scoring is down, but he’s become one of the best assist-men in the league. The guard had a season-high 13 assists against the Hawks, his third double-digit assist outing in the last four games.

Beyond those three, the rest of the Jazz roster has consistently delivered like they did in Atlanta.

Kelly Olynyk scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. Malik Beasley scored 18 points on six made three-pointers. Talen Horton-Tucker scored eight points and made several momentum-changing defensive plays.

As long as Markkanen, Conley, and Clarkson continue their stellar play, and the supporting cast carries it’s share of the load, the Jazz will keep having success, and the wins shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Walker Kessler Changed The Game

Markkanen might have been the best player on the floor against the Hawks, but it was Walker Kessler whose play likely won the Jazz the game.

Playing in front of his hometown for the first time in the NBA, Kessler had the most impactful game of his young career.

With the Jazz on the wrong end of a 32-13 run to open the second half, Kessler subbed into the game with four minutes remaining in the third quarter and put the breaks on the Hawks’ offense.

The Auburn product’s length eliminated Atlanta’s free run to the rim, and his easy baskets near the hoop provided the Jazz some much-needed offense.

“I thought his activity was great,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “He got out and ran, he got a couple of dunks. He’s very energetic. ”

With Kessler on the floor cut the Hawks lead from 10 to five heading into the fourth quarter, and overtook Atlanta for good with nine and a half minutes left in the game.

For the night, the rookie center finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and three blocks, and the Jazz outscored Atlanta by 14 points in his 16 minutes on the floor.

Rudy Gay has struggled so far this season, and Udoka Azubuike has yet to prove he’s a consistent NBA player.

Without Kessler’s quick start to his career, the Jazz likely would have struggled in games with a lack of frontcourt depth, but he’s repeatedly answered the bell when the team needs him.

Extras

  • Collin Sexton had his worst game in a Jazz uniform scoring three points and failing to record an assist or steal. The guard played only 13 minutes off the bench.
  • Rudy Gay was a team-high +18 in 18 minutes off the bench, despite shooting 1-7 against Atlanta.
  • Mike Conley had a 13:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the victory.
  • Malik Beasley has shot only two free throws in his last seven games total, he’s made 24 three-pointers in that same stretch.
  • Lauri Markkanen’s 16 first quarter points were a career-high for any quarter.
  • The Jazz will now enjoy two days off for the first time this season.

Next Broadcast

The Jazz and Wizards will tip off on Saturday at 4 pm MT in Washington. The game 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.

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Jazz Are No Fluke, Get 10th Win With Victory Over Hawks