The Utah Jazz were able to hold off the surging New York Knicks 117-113 on Wednesday night. This was a welcomed and much-needed victory for the Jazz due to the losses mounting of late, along with a lack of team chemistry.
All NBA teams will experience highs and lows throughout a rigorous 82-game season, and lately, the Jazz have received their fair share of the lows. Jazz fans finally received a holiday treat and welcomed the return of All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen, who didn’t waste any time making his presence felt by connecting on his first shot taken from the perimeter.
Now, let’s review the winners and losers of Wednesday night’s contest.
Winner: Jazz Roster
We have not witnessed sheer basketball fun from this Jazz bunch in quite some time. Last night’s narrative changed in the blink of an eye when the Knicks came to town.
The Jazz landed five players in double-figures, led by Collin Sexton’s 26 points and seven assists, who received the spot start. Markkanen looked like he had not missed any games, scoring 23 points and snagging eight rebounds.
Talen Horton-Tucker and Simone Fontecchio tallied 15 points apiece, Kelly “The Clinique” Olynyk nearly triple-doubled, Walker Kessler was rock solid, and Kris Dunn made his mark with 10 points and seven assists.
Jazz Nation should feel rejuvenated after this performance and all of the Jazz performers delighted with custom appearances. Let’s hope this level of consistency remains for the remainder of the season and the Jazz roster is a winner.
Loser: Quentin Grimes
Grimes logged nearly 16 minutes and scored two points on 25% shooting from the field. He was 0-for-3 from the three-point line while registering a game-high -27 game rating. His dismal activity continued throughout when he stepped to the free-throw line with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter and missed two free throws.
The Delta Center erupted while the accountants at Chick-fil-A cringed, knowing that the two missed throws resulted in a free meal for everyone. Grimes certainly chose the wrong night for this type of output and may want to display a higher level of positive concentration in the future.
Loser: RJ Barrett
The eye test revealed Barrett looking lost from the opening tip-off. He scored nine points on 19% shooting from the field and was 0-for-7 from the three-point line.
Jazz fans may remember Barrett as a potential trading piece for Donovan Mitchell last summer. I’m sure after last’s game Jazz CEO Danny Ainge breathed a sigh of relief. Barrett is a good NBA player but seems to struggle with his level of consistent production, and last night was an indicator of his deficiencies.
Next up for the Jazz is a road battle with the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. MST.