Kessler’s Big Night Not Enough As Jazz Lose To Suns

Mar 27, 2023, 10:52 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2023, 10:25 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Walker Kessler had another big night, but it wasn’t enough as Utah Jazz fell to the Phoenix Suns 117-103.

Kessler scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked seven shots, but the Jazz struggled to slow the Suns in the fourth quarter

Phoenix led by just three entering the final period, but outscored the Jazz 33-22 to run away with the easy win.

Kessler Getting More Respect From Officials

Of the 12 seven-block games that have been recorded league-wide this season, Kessler owns four of them.

Brook Lopez, the only other player in the NBA with multiple seven-block games has just two, while six other players have just one.

The rookie center didn’t have any during his first 41 games of the season but has done it four times in his last 30 outings.

While it’s no coincidence that Kessler’s move into the starting lineup just one game before his first seven-block outing has played a big role in his recent production, Jazz coach Will Hardy offered another explanation.

“His technique is improved, (and) I think for sure the reputation that he has now is helpful,” Hardy said. “Like all the best defenders in the NBA, part of it is they have a reputation and it’s not that they don’t ever foul, it’s that they’re known as a great defender.”

Despite his aggressiveness as a shot-blocker, Kessler has yet to foul out of a game during his rookie season. And, to Hardy’s credit, the rookie seems to agree that his reputation has helped him with the officials.

“I feel like the refs kind of know that’s what I do,” Kessler said.

Of Kessler’s six five foul games, four came in the first 39 games of the season, and only two have occurred since moving into the starting lineup.

“He’s really gotten the respect of the league — the officials, the players — in terms of being one of those premier shot blockers and I think that that’s led to not being in as much foul trouble,” Hardy said. “Early in the year, I felt like there were tons of times that he was in foul trouble even coming off the bench and playing less minutes.”

Kessler is the first rookie since 1998 to have at least four seven-block games since Tim Duncan did it five times in his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Brantley Not Returning To Jazz

After falling to the Suns, Jarrell Brantley was seen saying goodbye to his Jazz teammates as he left the locker room.

Deseret News writer Sarah Todd reported that the team had decided not to bring back the forward on a second 10-day contract, ending his latest stint with the Jazz after just four games.

Jazz center Damian Jones knows the difficulties of trying to carve out an NBA career playing one 10-day contract to the next having signed four short-team deals during his six-year NBA career.

“It’s tough, just trying to play your best basketball in the time given,” Jones said. “I felt like Jarrell did his thing when he got in and I’m just hoping for the best because it’s all about opportunity.”

Jones successfully escaped the world of 10-day contracts, having signed a multi-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason before he was traded to the Jazz.

Though Jones isn’t making huge money by league standards, he has a player option to stick with the Jazz next season, providing a sense of job security that can be difficult to find in the NBA.

“Being able to be in that position, yeah, it’s good,” Jones said. “Especially when you haven’t had the year that you wanted.”

Jones would be owed $2.5 if he opts to return to the Jazz next season.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs will tip off at 6 pm MT on Wednesday. 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 Utah’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 on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

Ben Anderson

Does Nuggets, Heat Finals Offer Championship Hope To Jazz?

Can the Utah Jazz replicate the championship blueprint that the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat have used to reach the NBA Finals?

18 hours ago

Utah Jazz Playoff Buzzer-Beaters...

Chandler Holt

Best Playoff Buzzer-Beaters In Utah Jazz History

Game six of the East Finals ending in dramatic fashion inspired us to go back to the best playoff buzzer-beaters in Jazz history.

18 hours ago

Cam Whitmore #22 of the Villanova Wildcats...

Ben Anderson

Cam Whitmore NBA Draft Analysis

The Utah Jazz own a top-10 pick in the 2023 NBA draft, and one of the players they’ll consider in June is Villanova wing Cam Whitmore.

2 days ago


Ben Anderson

Walker Kessler To Serve As NBA Finals Correspondent

Utah Jazz rookie standout Walker Kessler will serve as an NBA Finals media correspondent during the 2023 NBA Finals. 

2 days ago

Gradey Dick #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)...

Ben Anderson

Gradey Dick NBA Draft Analysis

The Utah Jazz own three first-round selections in the 2023 NBA draft and will surely look closely at Kansas wing Gradey Dick.

3 days ago


Kyle Ireland

26 Years Ago: John Stockton Sends Utah Jazz To NBA Finals

26 years ago, basketball fans in Utah celebrated after Greg Gumbel declared, "John Stockton sends the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals."

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

Kessler’s Big Night Not Enough As Jazz Lose To Suns