Hardy Adjusts Rotation, Clarkson Carries Jazz Over Clippers
SALT LAKE CITY – Will Hardy made significant adjustments to his rotation while Jordan Clarkson shined in the Utah Jazz 125-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Clarkson scored a season-high 33 points as every Jazz started scored in double-digits.
With the victory, the Jazz snapped a season-worst five-game losing streak.
Hardy Adjusts Jazz Rotation Against Clippers
The Jazz had fallen into a funk over the previous five games without Mike Conley on the floor due to a left knee sprain.
The offense failed to find a consistent attack, especially in the fourth quarter, while turnovers prevented the team from getting into its offense.
Against the Clippers, Hardy changed up his guard rotation, resting Talen Horton-Tucker for the entirety of the game and turning to Nickeil Alexander-Walker for the majority of the backup guard minutes.
Horton-Tucker had struggled during the Jazz five-game losing streak averaging 6.0 points, while shooting 36 percent from the floor and 33 percent from the three-point line, and committing 2.4 turnovers per game.
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Alexander-Walker had been in the rotation over the last three games with varying results, but played well in place of Horton-Tucker against the Clippers.
The 24-year-old scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting and turned the ball over only once in 16 minutes.
Despite the change on Wednesday, don’t be surprised if Hardy goes back to Horton-Tucker in the near future.
In Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Jazz coach sat Walker Kessler for the entire second half in favor of Udoka Azubuike, only to return to Kessler as the full-time backup against the Clippers, while Azubuike played just two minutes of garbage time.
Hardy will have to hope Horton-Tucker responds as well as Kessler did when he is reinserted into the lineup.
The rookie center scored five points, grabbed four rebounds, and blocked four shots in 22 minutes, and led the Jazz second unit with a +8 plus-minus.
Clarkson Plays Nearly The Entire Second Half
Though winning at all costs doesn’t seem to be the Jazz modus operandi this season, it was clear they were hungry for a victory against the Clippers.
Jordan Clarkson played 22 of the available 24 minutes in the second half while Collin Sexton played 20.
Alexander-Walker, who played 13 minutes in the first half, didn’t see the floor again until the final two minutes when the game was comfortably in hand.
“I thought those guys had good mojo tonight,” Hardy said of the shortened rotation in the second half. “It was just a feel thing, nobody necessarily did anything wrong or terrible. I thought that group was playing very well.”
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Clarkson picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, but stayed in the game and helped spark a big third quarter run.
“We had a chance I felt to boost the lead at that point,” Clarkson said. We were playing good, forcing turnovers, and my teammates did a good job helping me on that end.”
The Jazz took a two-point half-time deficit and turned it into a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter. Though the Clippers trimmed their deficit to just three in the fourth quarter, the Jazz starters, led by Clarkson and Collin Sexton responded quickly.
“I said that’s just the way it is, I don’t want to hear you’re tired,” Hardy told Clarkson.
Sexton played all by 45 seconds of the third quarter and asked to be subbed out of the game midway through the fourth, but was denied by his coach.
“I can’t say publicly when I said to him,” Hardy joked. “I just told him to take the timeout seriously, drink some water and electrolytes and take some deep breaths.”
Sexton’s energy was key in the fourth quarter as the Jazz outscored the Clippers by a team-high 11 points with the guard on the floor.
Lauri Markkanen added 23 points on a super-efficient 7-11 shooting night from the floor. Kelly Olynyk added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Jarred Vanderbilt recorded a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double.
- Jarred Vanderbilt scored 10 of his 14 total points in the fourth quarter on 5-6 shooting.
- After allowing 16 points on 10 turnovers in the first half, the Clippers failed to score on any of the Jazz’s seven second-half turnovers.
- With four blocks, Kessler has the third most blocks for a rookie Jazz history through 21 games. The Auburn product now has 34 blocks on the season and trails only Andrei Kirilenko who had 43 and Mark Eaton who had 40 in the same span.
- Kessler has the eighth most blocks in the NBA this season and has played at least 115 minutes less than each of the seven players above him.
The Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers will tip off at 7 pm MT Friday in Salt Lake City. 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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