UTAH JAZZ

Shot-Blocking Machine Walker Kessler Denies Zubac’s Dunk

Jan 18, 2023, 7:56 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2023, 1:54 pm
Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler defends Cleveland Cavalier wing Isaac Okoro...
Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler defends Cleveland Cavalier wing Isaac Okoro (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler, the 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, continues making life miserable for opposing offenses in his rookie season.

The Jazz (23-24) returned home to take on the Los Angeles Clippers (23-23) at Vivint Arena on Wednesday, January 18.

Kessler already has two blocks in 11 minutes against the Clippers. The rookie is 3-of-5 from the field with six rebounds, a steal and an assist as well. He is averaging 7.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and two blocks in 44 games.

The Clippers have yet to hold a lead tonight. They trail Utah 55-43 late in the second quarter.

RELATED: Report: Teams Eyeing Jazz Beasley, Conley Before Trade Deadline

All-Star Hopeful Lauri Markkanen Returns

Markkanen is in the midst of the breakout season with the Jazz averaging 24.6 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.

The Finnish big man appears poised to earn his first All-Star nod and has helped keep the Jazz relevant in the Western Conference Playoff chase.

But even without Markkanen over the last two games, the Jazz competed well against two formidable opponents.

On Friday, the team narrowly lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 118-117 in Salt Lake City before beating the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Monday.

Rookie Walker Kessler had the best game of his career with 20 points, 21 rebounds, and four assists in the Jazz 126-125 victory. Fellow rookie Ochai Agbai chipped in 17 points, while Clarkson led all Jazz scorers with 21.

RELATED: Jazz Rookies Shine In Shorthanded Win Over Timberwolves

While Markkanen has been upgraded to available, veteran big man Kelly Olynyk remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Clippers On Back-To-Back

The Clippers traveled to Utah on the second half of back-to-back games after facing the 76ers Tuesday night with several key players missing from the roster.

In addition to Leonard and George, the Clippers will be without Luke Kennard, John Wall, and Moses Brown against the Jazz.

Spearheaded by Leonard and George, Los Angeles has been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season. Just past the midway point of the season, the Clippers sit at .500 with their most daunting stretch of the schedule on the horizon.

The Clippers play 10 of their next 11 games on the road, beginning with the Jazz on Wednesday night.

Thought to be one of the favorites to come out of the West, the Clippers are just 2-8 in their last ten games and have the second-toughest remaining strength of schedule in the NBA.

LA would fall behind the Jazz in the standings with a loss Wednesday night.

Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers game is 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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Shot-Blocking Machine Walker Kessler Denies Zubac’s Dunk