Jazz Struggles Away From Utah Continue In Spurs Loss

Dec 26, 2022, 9:45 PM
Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz opened their three-game road trip with a 126-122 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Lauri Markkanen scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but the team’s slow start proved too much to overcome in San Antonio.

With the loss, the Jazz fell to 19-17 on the season.

Playing Catchup Dooms Jazz

The Jazz nearly erased a 20-point second-half deficit thanks to a late run that trimmed the Spurs lead to just four with 1:23 left to play.

However, Jarred Vanderbilt missed a free throw that would have cut the Spurs lead to three points, and a Malik Beasley three rimmed out on the ensuing possession and the Jazz were never able to fully dig themselves out of their massive hole.

Throughout the game, Jazz pieced together impressive runs to threaten San Antonio but were never able to see the job through.

In the second quarter, a 13-4 run trimmed the Spurs’ lead to three, in the third quarter an 8-0 run cut the lead to 12, and in the fourth quarter, runs of 9-2 and 10-0 gave the Jazz a chance to steal a win, but they were proved to be too little too late.

The Jazz shot just 36 percent from the floor through the first three quarters and 25 percent from the three-point line and weren’t able to slow the Spurs’ young offense.

“There’s nights in the NBA where you can’t seem to make a shot and we had one of those,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “But on top of that, we also need to have a better collective focus on the defensive end, guarding the ball, helping our teammates, shifting, and showing a crowd.”

The Spurs shot 55 percent from the floor despite making just six threes in the win.

Jazz Miss Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury for the Jazz and his absence was painfully obvious.

Walker Kessler started for Olynyk and managed just seven points and four rebounds in 21 minutes while battling foul trouble throughout the night.

Jarred Vanderbilt also struggled with foul trouble committing four in 25 minutes while scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds.

Without Olynyk, the Spurs were able to clog the paint defensively and won the points in the paint battle 74-52.

In addition to Olynyk’s shooting, he brings corporate knowledge to the game that the Jazz aren’t getting from the rookie Kessler, or fifth-year forward Vanderbilt, especially against a seasoned veteran like Jakob Poeltl.

Every minute Kessler plays this season is valuable, but there’s still a clear gap between him and other more experienced starting centers in the NBA.

Until Olynyk returns, Kessler and Vanderbilt will have to step up their play in the starting lineup.

Jazz Struggling On Road

The Jazz are now just 2-9 in their last 11 road games and have two more tough games on the immediate horizon.

The team now travels to Golden State who are an astounding 13-2 at home before facing the Kings who are 9-6 in Sacramento.

The Jazz will get a short reprieve when they head home to host the Miami Heat and the Kings to bookend the new year before heading back out on the road for games against the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Memphis Grizzlies.

After that three-game road trip, the Jazz will play 11 of 13 games in Salt Lake City which could be their opportunity to solidify themselves as a playoff team. Otherwise, the team must find a way to win games at a higher rate on the road if they have postseason hopes.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors will tip off at 8 pm MT on Wednesday. The game will be 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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Jazz Struggles Away From Utah Continue In Spurs Loss