NBA

Walker Kessler Makes First Start Of Career For Utah Jazz

Dec 7, 2022, 7:43 PM
Utah Jazz Center Walker Kessler...
Utah Jazz Center Walker Kessler (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY –With two starters unavailable, Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy turned to first-year center Walker Kessler against the defending champions.

The Jazz (14-12) hosted the Golden State Warriors (13-12) at Vivint Arena on Wednesday, December 7.

With Lauri Markkanen missing his first game due to illness, Kessler got the nod off of the bench, joining Collin Sexton, Malik Beasley, Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk.

RELATED: Walker Kessler Posts Career-Highs In Jazz Win

Drafted Memphis with the 22nd pick of the 2022 draft, Kessler was traded to Minnesota on draft night before being dealt to Utah as part of a package of draft picks and players in exchange for Rudy Gobert.

Prior to making his first career start, Kessler has appeared in 23 games for the Jazz. He has averages of 5.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 75.7 percent from the floor.

Kessler has two points and one rebound as the shorthanded Jazz trail the shorthanded Warriors 37-35 early in the second quarter.

Markkanen, Conley Out

Markkanen was added to the Jazz injury report late Wednesday due to an illness. The team did not offer an update on when the Finnish forward is expected to return to the lineup.

The Jazz star is averaging 22.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.

Conley was also scratched from the lineup despite returning to practice for the Jazz amid a rare three-day break after falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

The guard suffered a popliteus strain in his left knee in the Jazz win over Portland on November 19 but was listed as questionable by the team ahead of Wednesday nightโ€™s game.

โ€œEach day is getting better, today was the first time practicing with contact and stuff,โ€ Conley said Monday after practice. โ€œThe last week or so itโ€™s been kind of transitioning from walking, to jogging, to running.โ€

RELATED: Conley Returns To Jazz Practice

The Jazz were 0-5 immediately following Conleyโ€™s injury but had won two straight games before Saturdayโ€™s loss.

Conley was averaging 10.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 0.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals in 29.2 minutes per game for the Jazz before the injury.

Gay, meanwhile, was absent from the Jazz injury report after missing the teamโ€™s last 11 games with a sprained finger.

The veteran forward had been a regular off the bench this season averaging 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per contest but leads the Jazz in plus-minus at +5.7.

Warriors Without Curry, Green, and Wiggins

The Warriors have struggled mightily on the road this season and will face a tough task in Utah without three starters in the lineup.

Curry (ankle), Green (hip tightness), and Wiggins (right adductor strain) are each sitting out against the Jazz as the Warriors begin a stretch of eight games being played in eight different cities.

RELATED: Conley Questionable, Curry, Green Out As Jazz Host Warriors

The Warriors will travel home after facing the Jazz for one game against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, but heading out on a six-game East Coast road trip that concludes just before the Christmas holiday.

Itโ€™s a pivotal stretch for the Warriors who are just 2-10 on the road this season and sit a half-game behind the Jazz for the ninth seed in the Western Conference.

Utah Jazz vs. Golden State Warriors Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard onย 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed onย DirecTV Streamย andย FuboTV.

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Walker Kessler Makes First Start Of Career For Utah Jazz