Jazz Stop Slide With Win Over Spurs

Feb 25, 2024, 9:47 PM | Updated: Feb 27, 2024, 10:34 am

SALT LAKE CITY –Β The Utah Jazz earned their first win since the NBA trade deadline downing the San Antonio Spurs 128-109.

Lauri Markkanen scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Jazz.

Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 27 points and nine rebounds.

Jazz Hendricks Shows Growth Against Spurs

Taylor Hendricks got off to a difficult start after returning to the Jazz rotation after the trade deadline.

In his first four games before the All-Star break, Hendricks shot 6-17 from the floor, 3-11 from the three-point line, and averaged 3.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game.

When the Jazz returned from the mid-season break, head coach Will Hardy inserted Hendricks into the starting lineup, offering his vote of confidence for the lottery pick, and the rookie has responded.

Hendricks scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Thursday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, and followed it up with a 12 point, three rebound outing against the Spurs.

The 20-year-old forward has also flashed his defensive potential after matching up with the Hornets’ five-out attack, before being tasked with defending 7-foot-4 dynamo Victor Wembanyama.

“It’s been a couple of games that he’s been a starter and I’d expect him to be more comfortable tonight than he was last game,” Hardy said of Hendricks after the Jazz beat the Spurs. “I hope by the end of this road trip he’s more comfortable than he is today.”

Hendricks was recognizably lost in his first four games back in the lineup committing six turnovers in fewer than 70 minutes played.

Over his last two appearances, however, he’s looked more confident in his role and hasn’t turned the ball over in 50 minutes of action.

Hendricks is still struggling with his three-point shot, connecting on 2-10 as a starter. But if that shot starts to fall, which it did at a 39 percent rate as a freshman at Central Florida last season, the former top-ten pick should have no problem living up to his pre-draft expectations.

When Will Jazz Fill Open Roster Spots?

After waiving Kevin Knox at the trade deadline, and with Otto Porter Jr. being away from the team until further notice, the Jazz have been short two active roster players since returning from the All-Star break.

While being down two players could be a handicap for Hardy on game night, he said he doesn’t worry about the shortage.

“My brain can go all over the place thinking about all different possibilities and scenarios that are not happening that are not in front of me tonight,” Hardy said. “So I try my best to just stay pretty narrow focused on that and just coach we have right now.”

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NBA teams must carry a minimum of 13 players on their active roster, meaning the Jazz don’t have to sign anyone before the season ends.

“That’s the stuff that Justin [Zanik] and Danny [Ainge] are working on,” Hardy said. “My job is to coach who’s in there tonight.”

After the February 8 trade deadline, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said the team would explore its options to fill the spot.

“There’s a lot of change from the deadline, waivers, and other opportunities in the G League, there are two ways so it will take some time,” Zanik said. “I don’t have anything top of mind.”

Jazz Standings Watch

With the win over the Spurs, teamed with a Golden State Warriors loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Jazz picked up a full game in the chase for the 10th and final Play-In Tournament spot in the Western Conference.

They now sit 3.0 games back of the Warriors with 24 games left to play.

For those preferring to see the Jazz drop further in the standings, thus improving their lottery odds, Sunday’s results were a mixed back.

While the Jazz won, so did the Chicago Bulls who hold onto the 19th best record in the NBA and sit 0.5 games in front of the Jazz in the overall league standings.

Similarly, the Atlanta Hawks won on Sunday and maintained their 1.5-game deficit behind the Jazz in the standings, tied with the Houston Rockets who fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Jazz would owe their first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder this year if they finish with one of the 20 best records in the NBA, but would hold onto their selection if they finish with a bottom 10 record.

Here’s a look at the current lottery standings concerning the Jazz.

9. Houston Rockets 25-32Β 
10. Atlanta Hawks 25-32Β  Β 
11. Utah Jazz 27-31 | 1.5 games back of a top 10 pick.
12. Chicago Bulls 27-30 | 2.0 games back of a top 1o pick.

Jazz Next Opponent

The Jazz will face the Hawks on Tuesday at 5:30 pm MST in Atlanta. 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 onΒ 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter atΒ @BensHoopsΒ or on InstagramΒ @BensHoops.


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Jazz Stop Slide With Win Over Spurs