New Jazz Starters Struggle In Warriors Loss

Feb 12, 2024, 10:32 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2024, 2:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz fell to the Golden State Warriors 129-107 as they dropped to 26-28 on the season.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Jazz.

The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson who scored 26.

New Starting Lineup Struggles Against Warriors

The Jazz made a significant change to the starting lineup against Golden State, replacing veteran Kris Dunn with rookie Keyonte George for what will likely be the remainder of the regular season.

With the exception of Walker Kessler who was a net zero, every starter had a plus-minus of -20 or worse.

“I felt like it’s it’s time,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said of the move. “Keyonte is a big part of our program.”

George struggled offensively shooting just 2-10 from the floor including 1-6 from the three-point line, scoring five points in just over 29 minutes.

As a starter, George will be tasked with getting the team’s frontcourt into an offensive flow, rather than carrying the second-unit’s scoring load.

“I’ve got to get Lauri [Markkanen] going early,” George said. “He can’t feel like he’s not a part of the game, every time he’s in the game he has to be effective in some way.”

George dished out four assists while Markkanen added 19 points on 8-17 shooting.

Despite his slow start against the Warriors, Hardy reiterated his belief in the rookie.

“I think that Keyonte stepping into that role is ultimately is what’s best for our team moving forward,” Hardy said.

Jazz Lineups After The Trade Deadline

Throughout the season Hardy has discussed his desire to play the best 48 minutes of basketball from a lineup perspective.

That doesn’t always mean starting the team’s five best players, or closing a game with the same five he started.

Since mid-December, Hardy has found a consistent 10-man rotation that he’s been able to tinker with, and with a few exceptions, the Jazz have played a strong 48 minutes most nights.

But after Thursday’s trade deadline, Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontecchio, and Ochai Agbaji are gone, and Hardy’s had to hit the reset button on his most relied-upon lineups.

“You’ve got to look at and say, ‘Hey, that closing group that had Kelly in it, for example. Kelly was a big part of that group,'” Hardy said. “And so some of the data around the four other players may look good, but that means that I’ve got to make a really good choice about who the fifth person has to be with them.”

In addition to being one of the Jazz’s best shooters in the fourth quarter this season, the team regularly ran the offense through Olynyk as a playmaker, a skill set that will be hard to replace.

“It’s not like you’re adding a fifth player who’s just going to stand in the corner and shoot catch and shoots,” Hardy added. “We’re moving people around a lot, so there’s definitely context that goes into it, you can’t do it overnight.”

The Jazz struggled to execute with their new lineups, committing 18 turnovers leading to 23 Warriors points.

“We obviously have a lot of work to do in terms of cleaning up some of the guys’ roles and trying to help them understand how they can help each other,” Hardy said.

Jazz Standings Watch

The Jazz’s loss to Golden State could play a major role in the standings at the end of the regular season.

The Warriors now sit 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz for the 10th and final Play-In Tournament spot in the West.

Additionally, the 12th-seeded Houston Rocket beat the New York Knicks to pull within 1.5 games of the 11th-seed.

In the East, the Chicago Bulls downed the Atlanta Hawks and pulled even with the Jazz with a 26-28 record.

That means only the Rockets sit between the Jazz and the 10th-worst record in the NBA, in which case they would hold onto their 1-10 protected pick owed to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Los Angeles Lakers 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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New Jazz Starters Struggle In Warriors Loss