The Utah Jazz broke a depressing losing streak with a nice win against the New Orleans Pelicans, 105-100.
There was a surprise scratch to the starting lineup a few hours before the game that had Jazz fans wondering how well the Jazz would play tonight.
Jazz Injury Report:— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 25, 2023
*OUT - Lauri Markkanen (left hamstring soreness)
*OUT - Jordan Clarkson (illness)
*PROBABLE - Walker Kessler (left elbow sprain)
OUT - Josh Christopher (G League)
OUT - Taylor Hendricks (G League)
OUT - Johnny Juzang (G League)
OUT - Micah Potter (G… pic.twitter.com/TdwQAqN9Zd
With the Jazz missing Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson, a lot of fans probably expected players from the bench to play, and that’s not what happened.
Utah Jazz starting lineup tonight: Kris Dunn, Keynote George, Simone Fontecchio, Omer Yurtseven and John Collins— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) November 26, 2023
Will Hardy played a starting unit of Keyonte George, Kris Dunn, Simone Fontecchio, John Collins, and Omer Yurtseven, which was anything but what Jazz fans expected. It was a message sent, and with the Jazz getting the win, the message will hopefully be received.
The reasoning for this was to have players on the floor who would play hard and move the ball, and it worked.
Hardy: "This is for sure the first game we've won this year because of our defense... every player who took the court tonight competed on that end of the floor."— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 26, 2023
One game won’t change the Jazz’s defensive rating but it was certainly nice to see the Jazz actually compete on the defensive end and have it work. The Jazz have been absolutely bleeding points every game this season and to see them play hard on the defensive end, move the ball on offense, and close out the game against a good Pelicans team is a big positive.
It has to be said that the Pelicans were on the back end of a back-to-back and were missing Zion Williamson, but Utah was also missing Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson. It brings up some questions for the future and what the Jazz need to do with future lineups, but the Jazz should certainly be happy with this win and look ahead to more positive outcomes.
Finally, another big storyline for this one was the return of Walker Kessler, who looked like a completely different player. Having looked tentative all season, it was clear tonight that the elbow injury was hampering him before. Getting Kessler back at a high level is going to be massive for the Jazz as they continue their season.