Lauri Markkanen’s Fast Start Keeps Jazz Close Against Pelicans
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen didn’t miss a beat, scoring eight points in five minutes as he returned from a three game absence.
The Jazz (15-14) host the New Orleans Pelicans (18-8) in the first of two straight between these teams at Vivint Arena.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 14, 2022
Markkanen started 3-of-5 from the field, scoring eight points and adding two rebounds in his return from illness that forced him to miss games against Golden State, Minnesota and Denver.
In his sixth NBA season, Markkanen is averaging 22.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 52.8 percent from the field in his first season with Utah.
The Jazz trail New Orleans 30-29 after one quarter.
Markkanen Returns, Sexton Remains Out
The Jazz will be closer to whole with the return of Markkanen to the lineup.
Coach Will Hardy hasn’t had his full complement of players available in nearly a month. Not since Mike Conley was injured on November 19 in Portland have the Jazz enjoyed their full compliment of players.
Conley missed nine games before returning to the lineup in Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Markkanen and Conley, the Jazz two most important players, haven’t shared the floor for the last 11 games.
The team is just 3-8 during the stretch.
OUT – Simone Fontecchio (left ankle sprain)
OUT – Collin Sexton (right hamstring strain)
OUT – Johnny Juzang (G League – Two-Way)
OUT – Micah Potter (G League – Two-Way)
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) December 12, 2022
Guard Collin Sexton left the team’s win over the Golden State Warriors on December 7th with a hamstring strain and will be re-examined this week.
Sexton and rookie Simone Fontecchio will miss the front end of the two-game series with the Pelicans.
Best In The West: New Orleans Pelicans
Once thought to be a sleeper in the West, the Pelicans no longer catch any opponent by surprise.
New Orleans owns the best record in the West at 18-8, and the third-best record in the NBA overall.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 13, 2022
The return of Zion Williamson after missing all of last season has been critical for the Pelicans. The former number-one overall pick is averaging 25.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 60 percent from the floor.
Williamson’s return has allowed the Pelicans to survive the absence of Brandon Ingram who will miss his 12th game of the season so far.
Ingram left the Pelicans lineup with a toe injury in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on November 25th, but New Orleans hasn’t lost since.
The Pelicans are 9-2 overall this year when Ingram doesn’t suit up.
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