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Report: Jazz’s Walker Kessler Enters Concussion Protocol, Season Likely Over

Apr 3, 2023, 11:58 AM

SALT LAKE CITYUtah Jazz center Walker Kessler is entering the NBA’s concussion protocol, which will likely end his rookie season, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

The NBA insider reported the news on Monday, April 3.

“Source: Jazz rookie center Walker Kessler is entering concussion protocol, likely ending his season,” MacMahon tweeted. “Kessler is expected to be an All-Rookie selection.”

A day earlier, Kessler left Utah’s game against the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter after getting hit in the head.

The Nets hosted the Jazz at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, April 2.

With 7:05 remaining in the third quarter, Kessler went to the bench after a full timeout was taken by the Jazz. The rookie center was then taken to the locker room. The hit to Kessler came to his chin via friendly fire from Jazzman Talen Horton-Tucker.

A short time later, the Jazz ruled out the Auburn product for the rest of the contest due to concussion evaluation.

When Kessler left the game, Utah was trailing Brooklyn, 71-55.

Before leaving the game, Kessler had six points on 3-5 field goals. He added eight rebounds in 22 minutes on the hardwood.

Utah mounted a comeback from down 23 points before ultimately falling to Brooklyn, 111-110.

This season, Kessler is averaging 9.2 points per game on 72.0 percent shooting. He also averages 8.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 0.4 steals in 23.0 minutes per contest. He’s played in 74 games this season.

RELATED: Report: NHL Commissioner Met With Jazz Owner Ryan Smith

Jazz vs. Nets

Lauri Markkanen returned after a two-game absence scoring 23 points on 8-21 shooting but knocked down just 1-8 from three.

Talen Horton-Tucker led all scorers with 32 points in the loss. With the result, the Jazz are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2016.

In the final quarter, of the final game, of their final extended road trip of the season, the 11th-seeded Jazz trailed the playoff-bound Nets 93-70.

With All-Star forward still clearly laboring to find a rhythm amid late-season injuries, starting center Walker Kessler out for the remainder of the game due to a possible concussion, and neither Jordan Clarkson nor Collin Sexton in uniform, the Jazz had every reason to mail the final 10 minutes of the game.

The players could have returned home for the first time since Tuesday where the Jazz will play their next three games, and slowly fade into an extended offseason.

Instead, the Jazz locked in on both sides of the floor, holding Brooklyn to just 18 points over the final 9:51 of the game, while scoring 40 points fueled by the makeshift backcourt of Horton-Tucker and Kris Dunn.

After a pair of missed free throws by Seth Curry with seven seconds left to play, Kelly Olynyk took the ball the length of the floor and narrowly missed what would have been a game-winning jump shot.

Truthfully, the outcome is probably better for the Jazz in the grand scheme of things, slightly increasing the team’s draft odds this summer, rather than keeping their slim play-in tournament hopes alive.

But for those expecting the Jazz to shut their engines down with four games left in the season and long odds of making the playoffs, let Sunday’s fight in Brooklyn be a word of warning.

While the sun is clearly setting on this Jazz season, they won’t go quietly into that good night.

Jazz Lottery Odds Improve

The Jazz got help in the lottery standings with three separate results on Sunday afternoon.

In addition to falling to the Nets, the Chicago Bulls won an unexpected game over the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Minnesota Timberwolves lost a shocking game at home to the lowly Portland Trail Blazers.

With Chicago’s win, the Bulls now own a two-game lead over the Jazz in the overall league standings, with just four games left to play. Barring a two-game swing over the final week of the season, the Bulls will finish with a better record than the Jazz.

Unless the 36-42 Jazz were to overtake both the 38-40 Oklahoma City Thunder and the 37-41 Dallas Mavericks in the standings, the Jazz will finish with a top 10 pick in June’s draft.

Elsewhere, the Jazz’s odds of landing two lottery picks improved with Minnesota’s head-scratching loss at home.

The Timberwolves now own the ninth-best record in the West, dropping a full game behind the Lakers for the eighth seed, and 1.5 games back of the New Orleans Pelicans.

If these standings were to stay consistent for the remainder of the season, Minnesota would have to win two play-in games to qualify for the playoffs.

If they were to lose either play-in tournament game, the Timberwolves’ first-round pick which belongs to the Jazz via the Rudy Gobert trade would be no worse than the 14th pick in the lottery.

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Report: Jazz’s Walker Kessler Enters Concussion Protocol, Season Likely Over