What did we find out about the Utah Jazz tonight? A little, and maybe a lot in some areas. But it’s preseason, right?
The Utah Jazz kicked off their preseason slate Sunday night, in Hawaii against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The starting lineup looked like this:
C – Walker Kessler
F – Lauri Markkanen
F – John Collins
G – Collin Sexton
G – Talen Horton-Tucker
The Jazz looked a bit sluggish early, compared to the Clippers, who return a lot of players from last year’s team.
As the game progressed, the Jazz had some bright spots, going on a few runs to get back in the game when they trailed in the 2nd quarter, and again late in the 3rd when they went on a 26-7 tear (bridging the 3rd and 4th quarters), and near the end holding off a furious Clippers rally to win 101-96.
I’ll break things into 3 categories – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (apologies to Clint Eastwood):
THE GOOD: Keyonte George, Ochai Agbaji, Kris Dunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and Luka Samanic. Keyonte looked up to speed, had some nice drives to the basket that got him to the line, and he recovered well on defense. He seemed to flow well around screens to keep up with his man.
Dunn was poised and finished with 15 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 16 minutes and steadied the team during the Clippers’ comeback in the 4th, ultimately clinching the win with several layups and solid defense.
Ochai had several nice cuts to the basket and showed the ability to play in a 3 wing lineup as the SF.
Talen-Horton Tucker provided a deep threat, going 3-7 from three-point range, and played some solid defense.
Samanic hit several key 3-pointers late to help keep the lead intact.
THE BAD: Rebounding and Defensive Rotations. On a night where the Utah Jazz outrebounded the LA Clippers 52-43, the Jazz as a team struggled to rebound in traffic at times. There were many possessions in the game where 3 Jazz players allowed 1 Clippers player to get a rebound in the paint.
For defense, the Jazz were late rotating, especially on corner 3 attempts. Thankfully the Clippers shot horribly from 3, but in a regular season game, this would have led to the Jazz being blown out, and badly.
THE UGLY: Turnovers. Walker Kessler and John Collins, and the team’s shot selection as a whole.
The Jazz coughed up the ball 21 times in this game. Even for preseason, that’s an absurdly high number. That will have to improve or they will lose a lot of ballgames this year.
Kessler and Collins both had nice moments (Kessler’s 5 blocks, Collins’ slam), but the ballhandling from both was sloppy and inconsistent early and often. Each had 2 turnovers but it could have been more, and they looked out of sync at times.
As a whole, there were a lot of ill-advised shots by the Utah Jazz players, which added up to 44% from the field and 29% from 3. Thankfully the Clippers were worse, 39% from the field and 27% from 3.
So, what does it all mean? At this point, not a lot, as it’s the first preseason game. However, the defense and rebounding are definitely something the Utah Jazz will need to clean up before the regular season kicks off later this month. These teams play again on Tuesday, in Seattle, so we’ll get to see what Will Hardy and the coaching staff have them work on the next few days.