It was a perfect outcome for the Utah Jazz tonight where they gave the New York Knicks all they could handle and came up short 120-126.
As this season continues there will be a lot of development storylines to follow each night. One of the big surprises in the last two games has been the play of Talen Horton-Tucker who was fantastic tonight. THT scored 23 points with 7 assists and did it while shooting 8/12 from the field. Every time THT plays you can see the potential with his length and surprising burst. He had a few dazzling plays tonight where he would spin into the lane and score with separation. He’s also finding his teammates and helping them score with ease. The question for THT is can he find consistency? He doesn’t need to be an all-star but can he find a way to make good decisions consistently while he’s on the floor. If he can, he has a future with this team for years to come.
For Lauri Markkanen life is obviously more difficult without Mike Conley but he’s persevering and still playing at his all-star level. The shooting percentage wasn’t there tonight but he hit big-time buckets in the clutch to keep the game close. No one knows exactly who will be on this team next season and Markkanen will definitely be in a situation more like this one where he’s going to have to help with the playmaking. Can he get better at setting up teammates? Is there a playmaking skillset we haven’t seen from him yet? Last night he had 5 assists and tonight he had 3. Can he become more of a playmaker combined with his already impressive scoring? It’s the thing that will take this Jazz team to new heights in years to come.
After missing last night’s game with sickness, Jordan Clarkson returned tonight and played well in his minutes. The three-point shot wasn’t there tonight but he still found ways to get to the rim and score. It’s not clear that Clarkson will be on the team next year but he’s a big part of what they’re doing now. He played a team-leading 39 minutes and that will likely continue as the Jazz continue this season with this new roster.
Finally, what happened with Rudy Gay? In the last two games he’s looked like his old self. Tonight he was 4/5 from the field and 1⁄2 from three and continues his solid defensive play. It’s a big reason the Jazz are in these games. Will he continue to play this well as the season continues?