As the NBA resumed play on Thursday night following the All-Star Weekend break, the Utah Jazz rallied past the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 120-119 victory with a wide range of memorable plays in the fourth quarter and overtime.
However, one play during the Jazz’s first possession against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night in Salt Lake City was a hot topic in postgame interviews.
Will Hardy, the Jazz coach, made the decision to devise a play to attempt to give Walker Kessler his first actual NBA 3-pointer after witnessing the rookie hit a corner 3-pointer during the Skills Challenge, which he won with Jazz teammates Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton. Kessler’s first NBA 3-pointer was a win.
It paid off. With 18 rebounds and seven points, Utah’s center rewarded his coach later in the game by making the defensive play of the game.
The young big man only attempted one 3-pointer, so monster mode hasn’t quite been activated. At least from the outside on offense. By preventing Isaiah Joe from attempting a reverse layup in the final seconds of regulation, Kessler prevented the Thunder from winning Thursday and forced overtime.
That occurred shortly after Kessler made an offensive putback that tied the game.
Kessler made it one of seven times.
Aside from that, the Jazz were led by Lauri Markkanen for most of the fourth quarter, when he scored 18 points and made three free throws in overtime to win the game.
Despite missing three of 12 3-point attempts, the All-Star scored 43 points.
In a crushing 142-116 defeat at Dallas, the Spurs’ return from their midseason break was not nearly as enjoyable.
San Antonio lost its 15th game in a row, scoring 23 points from Malaki Branham and adding 22 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists from Keldon Johnson. Zach Collins scored 13 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds.
The Spurs’ annual rodeo tour, which has taken them on the road for seven of their previous outings, will come to an end with San Antonio’s extended stay in Utah in the near future. But first, the Spurs and Jazz will play two games on Saturday and Tuesday in Salt Lake City.