Sluggish Jazz Fall To Clippers In Second Preseason Meeting

Oct 10, 2023, 11:18 PM | Updated: Oct 11, 2023, 11:07 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz looked sluggish in their second game of the preseason, falling to the Los Angeles Clippers 103-98.

Talen Horton-Tucker led all scorers with 24 points, but the Jazz shot just 40 percent from the floor and trailed from wire-to-wire.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 16 points, all of which came in the first half.

Jazz Starting Halves Poorly In Preseason

For the second straight game coach Will Hardy started Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, John Collins, and Walker Kessler.

And for the second straight game, the unit struggled against the Clippers more experienced starters.

The ball moved slowly around the court as the Jazz failed to generate space within the offense, leading to contested three-point shots that rarely found the bottom of the net.

Hardy made a change to the lineup coming out of halftime, inserting Jordan Clarkson in place of Horton-Tucker, but it did little to fix the sluggish play.

The Jazz’s offense operated more smoothly with Kelly Olynyk in the lineup generating better spacing and open looks, though the team’s shooters connected on just 9-39 shots from the three-point line.

The team’s lack of a traditional lead guard has been a point of discussion throughout the offseason, and it has been a clear issue throughout the first two games of the season.

Kris Dunn had a strong performance in game one for the Jazz, but recorded just four points and one assist in his 19 minutes in game two.

For the second straight game rookie Keyonte George recorded five assists off the bench, again showing signs that he may have the chops to lead the Jazz offense at some point this season.

But, the 19-year-old guard still reads the defense at a slower pace than the team’s veterans as he continues to develop his ability to process the offense.

On the bright side, George did look more engaged defensively in his second outing after a series of miscues in Sunday night’s win.

The Jazz offense was most effective when Horton-Tucker hunted his own shot against the Clippers second unit, but that may be a difficult strategy to rely on for long stretches during the regular season.

Ultimately, the Jazz backcourt rotation is still in its developmental stages as Hardy works to find the right two-man pairings. With three preseason games remaining, don’t be surprised if each of the aforementioned guards gets a crack at the starting lineup ahead of opening night on October 25.

Collins, Kessler, Agbaji, and Hendricks

John Collins had a tough 1-6 shooting night in his second outing with the Jazz, including a missed dunk in the second quarter.

The positive news for the Jazz was that Collins generated three three-point attempts, including two open looks in the corners, connecting on first look. The forward finished with three points and five rebounds in 19 minutes on the floor, but has yet to find a rhythm in the team’s offense.

Walker Kessler was mostly silent on Tuesday night scoring three points on 1-2 shooting to go with four rebounds.

The second-year center again struggled with the size of Clippers big man Ivica Zubac to start the game, and never fully engaged in his 17 minutes on the floor.

Ochai Agbaji scored four points and grabbed three rebounds for the Jazz, but also had two turnovers and missed both of his three-point attempts.

The sophomore wing is now 0-6 from the three-point to open the preseason.

Taylor Hendricks saw even fewer minutes in game two than he did in his NBA debut on Sunday.

The forward played the final 4:51 of the game, recorded one rebound, and two fouls, and missed his only shot from the floor.

Hendricks tantalizing defensive potential was on display when he got matched up with Clippers guard Amir Coffey late in the fourth quarter. The Central Florida product slid his feet to stay in front of the smaller Coffey, then effectively challenged his mid-range jump shot leading to the miss.

The rookie’s low-minute total through two preseason games seems to hint that if the regular season started today, he wouldn’t be in the team’s main rotation.

For the second straight game, first round pick Brice Sensabaugh failed to see the floor.

Jazz Face Trail Blazers Next

The Jazz will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday at 7 p.m. MST at the Delta Center. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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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Sluggish Jazz Fall To Clippers In Second Preseason Meeting