Jazz Drop Three Spots In Standings With Loss To Heat

Mar 13, 2023, 9:07 PM | Updated: Mar 14, 2023, 9:57 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz dropped three spots in the Western Conference standings after their 119-115 loss to the Miami Heat.

Lauri Markkanen scored 38 points to lead the Jazz, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a balanced scoring effort from the Miami roster.

With the loss, the Jazz finished their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record.

Jazz Drop Three Spots In Standings

Monday’s loss in Miami could wind up having a huge impact on the final standings in the West.

With the Dallas Mavericks falling at home to the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies, the Jazz would have pulled into a tie for the eight-best record in the West with a win.

The Jazz also would have gained a half-game in the standings over the idle Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Instead, the loss drops them behind the three Western Conferences foes who remain at 33-35 in the standings while the Jazz dropped to 33-36.

The Jazz have the next four days off as they return home before beginning a difficult gauntlet to close the season.

Beginning with their matchup against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, the Jazz will play eight of their final 13 games against teams currently ranked in the top five of their respective conferences.

Seven of those eight games will come against teams poised to open the playoffs with home-court advantage, and four of the eight against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics, and the Denver Nuggets, the top three teams in the NBA.

The Jazz do have the advantage of playing eight of their final 13 games in Salt Lake City, though four of those eight come against likely playoff teams, with the other four coming against teams currently competing for the Play-In Tournament in the West.

According to Tankathon, the Jazz have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NBA by a reasonable margin. The team’s opponents have a win percentage of .560, a full two points higher than the second-ranked Indiana Pacers.

ABC News FiveThirtyEight projects the Jazz to finish the season with a 5-8 record over their final 13 games, resulting in a tie with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards for the eighth-worst record in the NBA at 38-44.

In that scenario, the three teams would have equal odds of moving into the top four picks in the draft via the lottery.

If none of the three teams were to win the lottery, the final draft order 8-10 would be decided via a random drawing.

Talen Horton-Tucker Comes Back To Earth

After a stellar three-game stretch for the Jazz, guard Talen Horton-Tucker had a below-average game against the Heat.

The 22-year-old guard scored nine points on 3-13 shooting after averaging 27.0 in his last three outings.

Horton-Tucker had abused the soft perimeter defenses of the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Hornets before running into the stout Heat defense led by Jimmy Butler.

While the guard struggled to score he continued to flash his improved playmaking in Will Hardy’s system dishing out eight assists and grabbing six rebounds.

Unfortunately, the guard’s turnover issues reared their ugly head again against Miami giving the ball away six times in 27 minutes.

Horton-Tucker’s multifaceted offensive game and unique frame continue to offer intrigue, but his decision-making will need to improve dramatically for him to reach his unusually high ceiling.

Fontecchio Earning His Keep

While most of the Jazz roster will be happy to come home to play their next four games in Salt Lake City, Simone Fontecchio may have preferred if the team stayed on the road.

The rookie forward has played the best basketball of his season during the Jazz six-game road swing, punctuated by his career-high 23 points in Miami.

Since leaving Utah Fontecchio has averaged 12.6 points over the last six games while shooting a stellar 14-33 from the three-point line for 42 percent.

Owed just $3.2 million this season Fontecchio was a low-risk swing for the Jazz on a player thought to be the most talented small forward not currently in the NBA.

The Italian forward is owed $3.0 million next season, and if he can keep producing the way he has over his last six games, he’ll have one of the best contracts on the Jazz roster.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics will tip off at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City on Saturday. 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.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utahโ€™s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

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

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Jazz Drop Three Spots In Standings With Loss To Heat