Confident Jazz Crush Pacers

Jan 15, 2024, 10:42 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2024, 10:52 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz put together another impressive performance in their 132-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Despite resting the entire fourth quarter Lauri Markkanen scored 32 points and added 10 rebounds, while Collin Sexton added 30 points.

With the win the Jazz moved to 22-20 on the season and sit within a half-game of the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the West.

Confident Jazz Trounce Pacers

The Jazz evolved into an offensive juggernaut over the last month owning the seventh-best offensive rating in the NBA as the team has improved to 15-4 over the stretch.

The transformation has frequently allowed the Jazz to blow teams out of games even before the beginning fourth quarter, just as they did against Indiana, pushing a seven-point first quarter lead to 14 at the half, before seeing it grow to 26 as they entered the final period.

“I think we’re playing the right way and everybody’s enjoying the game and feeling more confident,” Markkanen said.

That confidence has also been recognized by Jazz head coach Will Hardy who hopes to see more of it from his team.

“We have a lot of confidence, swagger, whatever you want to call it right now and it’s great,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I’m a huge proponent of that.”

That confidence has helped earn the Jazz eight double-digit victories over their last 15 wins, and five wins by 15 or more. In fact, the Jazz have had more games decided by at least 30 points (two) than they have games decided by five or fewer (one).

“The confidence, the way that they’re encouraging each other, the chatter from the bench, the way that they’re celebrating each other’s moments in the game is what you want in team sports,” Hardy added.

How Has Keyonte George Handled Role Change

Keyonte George made the first start of his career against the Pacers on November 8, and held onto that job until suffering an ankle injury 16 games later.

After missing six games, George had been displaced in the lineup by Sexton and Kris Dunn, and hasn’t started in his last 12 outings.

While many rookies might struggle with the role change, Hardy was complimentary of George’s mature approach.

“Keyonte knows how much I am invested in him and his development,” Hardy said. “And just because you’re not starting doesn’t mean you’re not important.”

While George’s raw statistical production has dipped with a drop in minutes, he’s seen a dramatic turnaround in regards to his plus-minus.

“I’m trying to continue to take it as another opportunity to get better,” George said. “That’s what I’m trying to look at this as.”

In his 15 starts the Jazz were outscored by 119 points in the nearly 450 minutes George was on the floor, the third-worst mark on the team.

Since returning, the Jazz have outscored their opponents by 73 in George’s 280 minutes, tied for the fourth-best number on the team.

“He’s got a great personality and he’s a really bright player,” Hardy added. “So as far as I’m concerned, he’s handled himself great.”

George scored 19 points, dished out five assists, and was a +13 against Indiana.

Nightly Awards: Jazz vs. Pacers

The “It Shouldn’t, But It Makes Total Sense” Award:

Kris Dunn blocked his 12th shot since December 26, keeping up his average at one block per game during the Jazz’s last 12 outings.

As a point guard who plays limited minutes that might seem unusual, but it’s fitting for Dunn who has cut his teeth as one of the more pure hustle players in the NBA.

Walker Kessler has 29 blocks to lead the team during the stretch, no other Jazz player has more than seven during the stretch.

Dunn also leads the Jazz with 18 steals since Christmas.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at 7 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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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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Confident Jazz Crush Pacers