Jazz Turn To Rookies In Loss To Hornets

Feb 22, 2024, 10:45 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz were unable to snap their four-game losing streak as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets at home 115-107.

Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out six assists.

Miles Bridges scored 26 to lead all scorers while adding 14 rebounds.

Don’t Blame Jazz Rookies For Loss To Hornets

While the Jazz suffered another difficult loss, it can’t be blamed on the three rookies who all received real rotational minutes for the first time this season.

Taylor Hendricks got his first NBA start as Will Hardy split up the Walker Kessler/John Collins frontcourt which has struggled throughout the season.

Brice Sensabaugh recorded a career-high 13 minutes, while Keyonte George played 31 minutes in his fourth consecutive start.

Hendricks had a standout third quarter scoring all 12 of his points in the third quarter while adding nine rebounds.

“I think he had some good moments of energy,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I thought in the second half he really kind of got himself into the game by getting on the offensive glass, got a couple of tip-ins, got a couple of balls. I think there’s also moments where Taylor recognizes there’s still a lot to learn.”

The Jazz outscored the Hornets by 10 in his 26 minutes on the floor.

“[I was] just trying to get myself going,” Hendricks said. “Crashing the glass, trying to get rebounds and give our team extra possessions.”

Sensabaugh saw his first true rotation minutes with the main roster this season and scored seven points on 3-6 shooting.

“It felt good to finally play and get some run with my guys,” Sensabaugh said. “I’m just trying to do everything I can, for real. Play hard, work on the defensive end, get steals, get deflections, whatever it may be.”

The move to play all three rookies marked a significant change for the final 26 games of the Jazz season.

Kessler moved to the bench with Hendricks in the starting lineup and recorded two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

With Sensabaugh in the rotation, Talen Horton-Tucker failed to see the floor after appearing in each of the last four games since the trade deadline.

“Being a perimeter defender in this league is hard and guarding pick and roll is really hard,” Hardy said.

“Having the proper technique gives you a chance, and he’s been working really hard at it, he’s very coachable, he’s very receptive to all the things that we’re telling him, but when you get out there on the court, it’s all happening fast.”

Hardy Shares Thoughts On 2000s Jazz Stars

The Jazz honored the franchise’s 2000s rosters by hosting Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, and Deron Williams at Thursday’s game.

Hardy, like many millennials, spent his teens devouring basketball on television, including the four Jazz legends.

“I’m a basketball sicko, I watched a lot of basketball,” Hardy admitted. “I vividly remember picking a pair of the dark blue with the light blue Jazz shorts out of the Eastbay magazine for Christmas one year.”

Before facing the Hornets, Hardy shared his thoughts on the four Jazz All-Stars:

On Williams: I loved watching Deron play. He’s a bigger guard, but seemed to never get sped up and was really physical.

On Kirilenko: Kirilenko was kind of a jack of all trades. It always seemed like you were watching him make winning play after winning play. Defensively, his length, his versatility — again I’d never seen him in person, I got to meet him yesterday — he’s just way bigger than I thought he was. 

On Boozer: Boozer, I watched a lot. I grew up in Virginia and ACC basketball was kind of my first love. So I got to watch him play at Duke and then obviously in the pros. He had a heck of a career. I feel like him shooting 15-foot jump shots and his physicality, it just feels like his game. Then the toughness that he brought was really fun to watch.

On Okur: Okur and the stretch, shooting big. I feel like he’d fit in great right now in the NBA. He was maybe a little bit ahead of his time.

The Jazz will have one more decade night to recognize the 2010s as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization throughout the season.

Jazz Standings Watch

With Thursday’s loss, the Jazz fell to 26-31 on the season.

Relatedly, the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers and climbed to 28-26 on the season, moving four full games ahead of the Jazz in the standings for the tenth and final Play-In Tournament spot.

The Jazz did not improve their standings in the draft however as both the Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls both lost.

After Thursday’s results, the Jazz own the 11th worst record in the NBA, 1.0 games ahead of both the Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks in the standings.

Utah Jazz Next Game

The Jazz will face the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at 6 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.

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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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Jazz Turn To Rookies In Loss To Hornets