Markkanen Makes Impressive All-Star Debut At Home
SALT LAKE CITY – Lauri Markkanen made the most of his first All-Star appearance scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 26 minutes.
The Utah Jazz forward was the last selection by Giannis Antetokounmpo from the starting pool but said he wasn’t bothered by the draft order.
“I didn’t really care,” Markkanen said. “I’m glad to be a part of this whole experience. So I don’t really care.”
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It turns out Markkanen’s fall to the last pick in the pre-game draft may have been an accident.
Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic thought he was the last remaining player on the draft stage Sunday night, and got up to walk toward Team LeBron captain LeBron James assuming there were no other selections.
Jokic’s hastiness forced James to take the Denver Nuggets superstar, leaving Markkanen to join Team Giannis.
“I wouldn’t have drafted myself,” Jokic joked after the mistake. “I’m not meant for this game.”
Despite the pregame hiccup, Markkanen didn’t perform like the last pick once he took the floor.
The Finnish big man scored Team Giannis’ second basket on an alley-oop from former Jazzman Donovan Mitchell.
“I’ve known Lauri for a while,” Mitchell said of the alley-oop connection. “It’s great to see him out here thriving and that was great to have that moment for sure.”
Mitchell was impressive playing in front of a supportive Utah crowd. The Cleveland Cavaliers star finished the game with 40 points and 10 assists and earned one of the 12 All-Star MVP votes.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) February 20, 2023
Jayson Tatum, who took home the MVP trophy, set a new NBA All-Star Game record with 55 points on 22-31 shooting.
While Markkanen looked like he may have a shot at the MVP award during an impressive 11 point first half, the starting forward cooled off considerably in the third and fourth quarters.
Markkanen added just two points late in the fourth and missed what would have been the game-winner for Team Giannis.
Despite the quiet close to the game, Markkanen enjoyed his All-Star experience.
“I was happy to get out there and play with those guys,” Markkanen said. “It was just a great experience to be a part of and I can’t wait to be here again.”
The Jazz star now has three days off before the Jazz retake the floor on Thursday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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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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