Jazz Rookies Benched In Blowout Loss To Clippers

Apr 5, 2024, 11:31 PM

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy looks on...

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy looks on (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz suffered their 11th consecutive loss falling on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers 131-102.

Five Jazz players scored in double-figures, led by Talen Horton-Tucker who scored 17 points off the bench.

The Clippers were led by 19 points from Terance Mann.

Related: Recapping Jazz Loss To Clippers

Jazz Rookies Benched In Clippers Loss

With his team trailing 25-7 midway through the first quarter, Jazz coach Will Hardy subbed out four starters, including rookies Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh, and benched the first-year players for the remainder of the half.

“It’s another night where we’re on our heels are not physical enough, we’re not communicating enough, we’re not urgent enough, we’re not scared enough, and we dig ourselves a deep hole very early,” Hardy said.

The second-year coach has repeatedly preached that minutes must be earned and are not given, and that every second on an NBA floor should be valued, and put those words into action against the Clippers.

“There’s going to be questions about certain players’ minutes, but right now we’re trying to build habits,” Hardy said. “We’re trying to form a concept on both ends of the floor that we think moving forward will not only help our program but these players individually.”

George, Hendricks, and Sensabaugh were not on the floor to start the second half, but were subbed in separately throughout the third quarter.

Related: Jazz Unveil All-Rookie Campaign For Keyonte George

The trio of rookies finished the game combining for 15 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists but shot just 5-16 from the floor while turning the ball over six times, including another difficult 2-9 shooting, five giveaway performance from George.

“I love every person in that locker room,” Hardy explained. “I care about them all as people and as players and I want to help them be successful. But we’ve got to begin to learn and adapt and there are certain things that being young is not an excuse for.”

Lofton Jr., Bazley Make Jazz Debuts

After signing with the team in early March, both Darius Bazley and Kenneth Lofton Jr. made their Jazz debuts in Los Angeles.

With Lauri Markkanen (shoulder), John Collins (back), Jordan Clarkson (SI), and Walker Kessler (nose) all missing the game, the Jazz had to dig deeper onto the bench to fill out the roster.

Bazley scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded three steals in 34 minutes on the floor.

“I thought Baze was great,” Hardy said. “His energy, his athleticism moving his feet defensively, his length really stood out. I thought the switching was really good with him on defense.”

Lofton Jr. meanwhile scored seven points on 3-7 shooting and grabbed one rebound in 12 minutes.

“Kenny is a scorer by nature for sure,” Hardy added. “He presents a problem in the post against mismatches. Obviously, he can space the court and shoot it a little bit.”

Though neither player is guaranteed to be on the roster next season, they both made a good first impression on Friday night.

Jazz Standings Watch

With their loss to the Clippers, teamed with a Brooklyn Nets win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, the Jazz now own the eighth-worst record in the NBA outright with a full game separating the two teams.

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With five games left in the regular season, the Jazz own the fifth-toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, while the Nets own the seventh-easiest.

Barring a surprising turn of events, the Jazz should finish the year as the league’s eighth-worst team, and will own a 26.2 percent chance of moving up into the top four picks of the NBA draft.

Utah Jazz Next Game

The Jazz will face the Kings 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.

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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Jazz Rookies Benched In Blowout Loss To Clippers