UTAH JAZZ

Strong Jazz Effort Falls Short Against Magic

Feb 29, 2024, 8:25 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2024, 2:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz played one of their better games since the trade deadline but came up short against the Orlando Magic 115-107.

Three Jazz players scored 19 points, while the Magic were led by Paolo Banchero with 29.

With the loss, the Jazz fell to 27-33 on the season.

Vets Poor Shooting Sinks Jazz Against Magic

Though the Jazz shot well as a team, connecting on 42 percent of their field goals including 43 percent of their threes, and 23-28 free throws, the poor shooting from Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson was difficult to overcome.

Markkanen shot 4-7 from downtown, but made just 2-8 inside the arc, and missed three of his four attempts at the rim.

“Lauri shot the ball well from three,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “But I think if you ask Lauri, he’s a little frustrated with some of his finishing, especially in the first half around the basket.

The Jazz star also struggled to affect the game elsewhere grabbing just three rebounds and failing to record an assist in 34 minutes.

Clarkson dished out seven assists and snared five rebounds, but shot just 2-10 from the floor and 1-5 from three, while failing to get to the free-throw line.

Markkanen is in the midst of an unusually cold shooting streak connecting on just 37 percent of his field goals over his last six games.

Clarkson meanwhile is shooting just 36 percent over his last eight outings after Thursday’s performance.

While the loss of Kelly Olynyk and Simone Fontecchio at the trade deadline has hurt the Jazz’s spacing, they simply need their veterans to shoot the ball better if they want to slow their losing ways.

Keyonte George Strong Game

Rookie Keyonte George snapped out of a two-game shooting slump, scoring 19 points on 5-12 shooting including 2-4 from three and 7-7 from the free-throw line.

The guard also dished out nine assists, his most in a game since matching his career high with 11 on December 6.

George entered the night with a tough matchup against a stellar defensive backcourt in Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris but found a way to score efficiently while turning the ball over only twice in 31 minutes.

His game was not without flaws, however.

Suggs sank three late three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one on a broken defensive play after George went rogue in the final minute of the game.

“Keyonte is trying to make a play, and that’s just where he was on the floor, but I think in that moment as a team, we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing that being down four with 1:05 is a very winnable game,” Hardy said. “We just need to stay focused in that moment and execute what we want to do.”

It’s a good learning opportunity for George to recognize how well he helped the team through the first 47 minutes of the game, but made a critical mistake that hurt the Jazz late.

Jazz Standings Watch

After Thursday’s loss, teamed with a Golden State Warriors win, the Jazz fell a full five games back of the final Play-In Tournament spots in the West.

With just 22 games left in the season, it’s hard to see how the Jazz will overcome five games in the loss column to catch the Los Angeles Lakers for the tenth seed.

Leaguewide, the Jazz remain a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the 10th-worst record in the NBA but fell 1.5 games back of the inactive Chicago Bulls who own the league’s 12th-worst record.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Heat on Saturday at 3 pm MST in Miami. 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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