Jazz Fall To Nets, Guarantee Losing Season
Apr 2, 2023, 4:56 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2023, 12:43 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz nearly erased a 23-point fourth quarter deficit but ultimately fell 111-110 to the Brooklyn Nets.
Lauri Markkanen returned after a two-game absence scoring 23 points on 8-21 shooting but knocked down just 1-8 from three.
Talen Horton-Tucker led all scorers with 32 points in the loss. With the result, the Jazz are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2016.
No Quit Jazz Still Fighting
In the final quarter, of the final game, of their final extended road trip of the season, the 11th-seeded Jazz trailed the playoff-bound Nets 93-70.
With All-Star forward still clearly laboring to find a rhythm amid late-season injuries, starting center Walker Kessler out for the remainder of the game due to a possible concussion, and neither Jordan Clarkson nor Collin Sexton in uniform, the Jazz had every reason to mail the final 10 minutes of the game.
The players could have returned home for the first time since Tuesday where the Jazz will play their next three games, and slowly fade into an extended offseason.
Instead, the Jazz locked in on both sides of the floor, holding Brooklyn to just 18 points over the final 9:51 of the game, while scoring 40 points fueled by the makeshift backcourt of Horton-Tucker and Kris Dunn.
After a pair of missed free throws by Seth Curry with seven seconds left to play, Kelly Olynyk took the ball the length of the floor and narrowly missed what would have been a game-winning jump shot.
Truthfully, the outcome is probably better for the Jazz in the grand scheme of things, slightly increasing the team’s draft odds this summer, rather than keeping their slim play-in tournament hopes alive.
But for those expecting the Jazz to shut their engines down with four games left in the season and long odds of making the playoffs, let Sunday’s fight in Brooklyn be a word of warning.
While the sun is clearly setting on this Jazz season, they won’t go quietly into that good night.
Nets Probably Regret O’Neale Trade
If given the chance, the Nets would probably welcome an opportunity to revisit last summer’s trade that sent a first-round pick to the Jazz in exchange for Royce O’Neale.
Make no mistake, O’Neale has been exactly what the Nets were wanting this season, a strong defender and reliable three-point shooter to eat up minutes on a playoff roster.
But after moving Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before February’s trade deadline, the Nets would probably prefer to have the extra draft pick on a team that could use more young talent, even on a roster that is still poised to make the postseason.
The @utahjazz are sending Royce O'Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first round pick per multiple reports. #TakeNote https://t.co/QNAbI4BJg7
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) June 30, 2022
Mikal Bridges will be an All-Star in Brooklyn having exceeded all expectations since becoming the go-to scoring option for the Nets.
Cam Johnson has also proven to be a strong addition, averaging a career-high 16.6 points per game in Brooklyn.
After a strong beginning to the season for O’Neale starting alongside Durant and Iriving, the former Jazz forward has found himself relegated to bench duty over the last 20 games.
Fighting for minutes behind Bridges and Johnson, O’Neale’s minutes per game average has dropped from 34 per contest over the first 52 games of the year to just under 26 since the trades.
O’Neale had a quiet three point, three assist, four rebound outing against the Jazz on Sunday, playing just 19 minutes off the bench. And though his veteran presence can still be a positive for the young Nets, they’d probably prefer to have another draft pick in their arsenal this summer.
Jazz Lottery Odds Improve
The Jazz got help in the lottery standings with three separate results on Sunday afternoon.
In addition to falling to the Nets, the Chicago Bulls won an unexpected game over the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Minnesota Timberwolves lost a shocking game at home to the lowly Portland Trail Blazers.
With Chicago’s win, the Bulls now own a two-game lead over the Jazz in the overall league standings, with just four games left to play. Barring a two-game swing over the final week of the season, the Bulls will finish with a better record than the Jazz.
BIG COMEBACK VICTORY 😤 pic.twitter.com/ZgH8M1LbEl
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 2, 2023
Unless the 36-42 Jazz were to overtake both the 38-40 Oklahoma City Thunder and the 37-41 Dallas Mavericks in the standings, the Jazz will finish with a top 10 pick in June’s draft.
Elsewhere, the Jazz’s odds of landing two lottery picks improved with Minnesota’s head-scratching loss at home.
The Timberwolves now own the ninth-best record in the West, dropping a full game behind the Lakers for the eighth seed, and 1.5 games back of the New Orleans Pelicans.
If these standings were to stay consistent for the remainder of the season, Minnesota would have to win two play-in games to qualify for the playoffs.
If they were to lose either play-in tournament game, the Timberwolves first-round pick which belongs to the Jazz via the Rudy Gobert trade would be no worse than the 14th pick in the lottery.
Utah Jazz Next Broadcast
The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers will tip off at 7 pm MT on Tuesday. 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.
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