UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Drop Below .500 After Herro Heartbreaker

Dec 31, 2022, 10:11 PM | Updated: 10:14 pm
Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat...
Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz fell below .500 for the first time this season after falling to the Miami Heat 129-126 on a Tyler Herro buzzer-beater.

Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including three clutch free throws to tie the game at 126, but Herro went the length of the floor to beat the Jazz with a difficult three-point shot.

Herro scored 29 while Bam Adebayo added 32 for the Heat as the Jazz lost their fourth straight game.

Herro Was Hero, But Heat Beat Jazz With The Pass

Though it was Herro’s remarkable buzzer-beater that sunk the Jazz in the end, it was their passing over the first 47 minutes of the game that put them in a position to win.

The Heat took advantage of the Jazz’s defense by moving the ball in the first half, assisting on 21-26 field goal attempts, despite shooting just 7-21 from the three-point line.

‘I think our defense in the second half was much better than the first half,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Our physicality really stepped up and we put ourselves in a position to take it to overtime but credit to Tyler, he’s a heck of a player. That was an incredible shot.”

Miami shot 10-13 inside the arc in the first quarter and 9-13 in the second for a total of 19-26 or 73 percent.

The Jazz gave up only 11 assists to the Heat offense in the second half after a difficult beginning to the game. Despite the improved second-half defense, the Heat’s 32 assists were tied for their second-best outing of the season.

Without a roster of strong defensive players, the Jazz can find themselves as a whole roster reflecting the play of rookie Walker Kessler, arguably their most impactful defensive player.

Against the Heat, the Jazz saw the positives and negatives of that gambit.

“I thought his defense in the first half was terrible, it was sort of all over the place in pick-and-roll coverages,” Hardy said. “And I thought he really settled down in the second half.”

Kelly Olynyk is a significantly better offensive player than Kessler, and Jarred Vanderbilt’s experience still gives him an argument to be on the floor to start games.

But the Jazz need the specific things defensively that Kessler offered defensively in the second half, and if he can provide those more consistently, he’ll likely continue to see his minutes grow in the new year for that reason.

Will Hardy’s ‘Beautifully Hectic’ 2022

Saturday’s contest marked the 38th game of the regular season for Will Hardy, a rather unremarkable number in what is going to be a long NBA career for the Jazz head coach.

It did however mark the final day of 2022 which will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable years in Hardy’s life.

“It’s it’s been a whirlwind for sure,” Hardy admitted. “We’ve moved twice in under 12 months, first from Texas to Boston, then Boston to Utah with two kids.”

Hardy’s family joined him in Boston after he accepted the job as the lead assistant under Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

After helping lead Boston to the NBA Finals in the coaching staff’s first year, Hardy was hired to take over for the outgoing Quin Snyder to lead the next era of the Jazz.

Though it’s been a whirlwind of a year, Hardy said he tries to step back and enjoy the experience whenever he can.

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in this job and the NBA world and you can lose a little bit of perspective at times of just how lucky we are to be in this position,” Hardy said. “To have a healthy family and to be working for a great organization. I still wake up every morning and it takes me a couple of minutes to remember that I’m a head coach in the NBA.”

After an unexpected 10-3 start to the season, the team has fallen back to earth due to a compact NBA schedule, and a string of injuries.

Even with the difficulties, the Jazz coach is telling relishing his new life.

“It’s been beautifully hectic,” Hardy said. “I’m not going to sit here and complain about anything that’s happened in the last 12 months of our lives. It’s definitely been a lot — but [there have been] so many experiences and great memories with a lot of great people.”

The Jazz Might Get A Lottery Pick From Minnesota

Apologies for writing about a game that has nothing to do with the Jazz and the Heat, but the odds continue to grow that Minnesota’s first-round pick this offseason will be in the lottery. That’s good news for the Jazz who own four of the Timberwolves next seven first-rounders.

While the Jazz and Miami were busy playing in Utah, the Timberwolves were watching their 2022 end with their worst loss of the season so far.

The Timberwolves fell to the Detroit Pistons 116-104 on their home floor, allowing former Jazzman Bojan Bogdanovic to go off for 28 points on 10-14 shooting.

Though both were listed as questionable before the game, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards suited up for the Timberwolves, but it didn’t make much difference.

The Timberwolves allowed the Pistons, who own the worst record in the NBA, to erase a 14 point half-time deficit before winning the game comfortably in the fourth quarter.

It’s a troubling sign for the Timberwolves who have lost nine of their last 12 games and sit at 16-21 on the season. That guarantees Minnesota that it will be below .500 at the midway point of the year, even if they were to win their next four games.

To make matters worse, their next three games are against the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers, all teams in the top eight of the Western Conference Playoff race.

The Jazz are still firmly in the race for the Play-In tournament in the West, largely thanks to the underwhelming play from both the Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers through the first half of the season.

While it wouldn’t be an ideal spot to finish for Jazz a team that will continue to need to add lottery talent to its roster to get back to the top of the West, Minnesota delivering a top 10 pick less than one calendar year after the Gobert trade would be an unexpected gift.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings will tip off at 7 pm MT Tuesday in Salt Lake City. 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 Drop Below .500 After Herro Heartbreaker