UTAH JAZZ

Clarkson-Markkanen Connection Gives Jazz Lead With Dunk

Dec 13, 2022, 8:14 PM
Utah-Jazz-Lauri-Markkanen-Houston-Rockets...
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen dunks against the Houston Rockets (Photo: Deseret News/Spenser Heaps)
(Photo: Deseret News/Spenser Heaps)

SALT LAKE CITY – Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson hit teammate Lauri Markkanen with beautiful pass and the Finnisher threw down a powerful two-handed slam as Utah seized momentum.

The Jazz (15-14) host the New Orleans Pelicans (18-8) in the first of two straight between these teams at Vivint Arena.

With 2:40 left in the half, Clarkson found Markkanen, who had escaped his defender with a perfectly timed backdoor cut, diving from the left wing to the hoop for an uncontested hammer that gave Utah a 47-45 lead in a tightly contested first half.

Markkanen leads the Jazz with 17 points. Malik Beasley joins him in double-figures with 11 points.

Utah closed the first half on a 10-1 run to take a 52-45 halftime lead.

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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Clarkson-Markkanen Connection Gives Jazz Lead With Dunk