UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Jump Clippers In West With Runaway Win

Jan 18, 2023, 10:47 PM | Updated: Jan 19, 2023, 9:14 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz jumped the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference standings with an easy 126-103 win.

Lauri Markkanen returned from a two-game absence and scored a game-high 34 points while grabbing 12 rebounds.

With the win, the Jazz moved back to .500 for the first time since December 30.

Markkanen’s Incredible Consistency

Markkanen had another stellar outing in his return, racking up his third consecutive double-double, and his 11th 30 point game of the season.

The Finnish forward has truly established himself as one of the premiere forwards in the NBA, and he proves it each night he steps on the floor.

Rather than seeing wild swings in his statistics resulting in his nearly 25 point per game average, Markkanen consistently puts out dynamite performances for the Jazz.

“Lauri seemed to do a little little bit of everything,” Will Hardy said. “He made threes, got to the basket with force early in the game — he’s continuing to grow before our eyes every night in terms of understanding.”

Wednesday’s win over the Clippers marked Markkanen’s career-best 14th consecutive game of 20 points or more and extended his streak to games scoring double digits to 48, dating back to last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A key to Markkanen’s dominance has been his versatility, which he showed once again against LA. The former lottery pick knocked down 5-12 field goals inside the arc and an efficient 6-8 from the three-point line.

“There’s a lot of different ways to be effective on the offensive end in this league, especially when you have his combination of size, skill, and athleticism,” Hardy said.

The Jazz 23 point victory over the Clippers was a rare blowout, but Markkanen’s consistency has been one of the key reasons the Jazz have rarely been on the wrong side of a bad beatdown this season.

Jazz Climb Western Conference Standings

The Jazz climbed into the sixth in the Western Conference Playoff race with the win over the Clippers and would earn a guaranteed spot in the postseason if it were to begin tomorrow.

But even having won four of their last five games, the number of teams fighting to qualify for the two final guaranteed playoff spots, and the four open play-in tournament seeds remains remarkably close.

The Dallas Mavericks have lost three straight games and lead the Jazz for the fifth seed in the West by just one game.

Both the Jazz and the Golden State Warriors sit at .500, but the Jazz have played two more games than the Warriors, giving them the tiebreaker in the current standings, even though Golden State won the season series 2-1.

In fact, the Jazz sit just a half-game ahead of the tenth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, and 2.5 games ahead of the 13th-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

As of Wednesday night, the Jazz are closer to the third-worst record in the West than they are the fourth-best, despite owning the sixth seed.

At this point, it would be nearly impossible for the Jazz to fall behind the 14-31 San Antonio Spurs or the 10-35 Houston Rockets. Neither team is likely to reach the 24 wins the Jazz already have this season.

The same can be said for the 12-34 Detroit Pistons, the 12-35 Charlotte Hornets, and most likely the 16-28 Orlando Magic.

That means that even if the Jazz are to miss the playoffs in the West, they’ll have at best the sixth-best odds of winning the lottery.

In reality, the 10th-12th seeds in the East who don’t qualify for the postseason are all serious threats to have worse records than the Jazz at the end of the season, barring a complete collapse.

The Chicago Bulls, who currently own the 10th seed in the East, are four games below .500 at 20-24.

Here’s a quick look at the Jazz odds in the lottery depending on where they finish in the standings and don’t qualify for the playoffs, assuming they will have no better than the sixth-best odds.

6th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 37.2 percent chance, picks 6-10, 62.8 percent chance.

7th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 31.9 percent chance, picks 7-10, 68.1 percent chance.

8th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 23.5 percent chance, picks 8-11, 76.5 percent chance.

9th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 23.1 percent chance, picks 9-12, 76.9 percent chance.

10th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 13.9 percent chance, picks 10-12, 86.1 percent chance.

11th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 9.4 percent chance, picks 11-13, 90.6 percent chance. 

12th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 6.1 percent chance, picks 12-14, 93.9 percent chance. 

13th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 5.7 percent chance, picks 13-14, 94.3 percent chance. 

14th Worst Record: Top 4 Pick, 2.4 percent chance, pick 14, 97.6 percent chance. 

With the Jazz having already won 24 games this season, the Jazz odds of winning a top-four pick in the lottery are probably below 25 percent, and could realistically be below 15 percent despite having 34 games left to play.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Brookyln Nets will tip off at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City on Thursday. 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.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Jump Clippers In West With Runaway Win