UTAH JAZZ

Lauri Markkanen’s Fast Start Keeps Jazz Close Against Pelicans

Dec 13, 2022, 7:31 PM | Updated: 7:35 pm

Lauri-Markkanen-Utah-Jazz-Dunk...

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) lands a big dunk over Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) during the game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

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.

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.

RELATED: ‘Full Go’ For Mike Conley Tonight Against New Orleans Pelicans

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.

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.

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.

RELATED: Markkanen Returns As Jazz Host Pelicans In Two Game Series

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.

Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans game is being televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

 

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Lauri Markkanen’s Fast Start Keeps Jazz Close Against Pelicans