Proud of men digging in | Several players advance late in Utah’s victory over Houston

When Utah left Toyota Center Monday night, they couldn’t help but feel like they had let the game slip by. Despite playing the second end from back to back, the Jazz ran out of momentum and fell to the Rockets.

So when these two teams met again on Wednesday, Utah didn’t have to say they felt there was something to prove – they just let their play speak.

In front of a boisterous and boisterous crowd, the Jazz team halted a late comeback attempt by the Rockets for a 109-101 win. Utah is now improving to 4-1 in the youth season.

“I am happy for our guys. … Winning this league is really hard every night,” said coach Will Hardy. “Our team has to try to find a way, with the players stepping up and answering the bell.”

Due to some serious problems at the end, Hardy had to go with an unorthodox closing lineup that included Laurie Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley and Tallinn Horton Tucker. It was the first time this group had played so long on the court together, and after a few tough possessions, they found rhythm at both ends to win.

Switching everything up, the Jazz forced the Rockets into difficult and contested shots, then went out and ran, pushing the rhythm. They shorted the Rockets by five points over the last five minutes, a focus that Hardy says ultimately won the match.

Another night, a different closing lineup, Hardy said with a smile. “Tonight was a very disjointed match, the squalls hurt and hurt us. He made the tempo of the match so slow that we could never get an attacking rhythm. I am proud of the guys for their pits.”

After his struggles on Monday, Markkanen looked more like him on Wednesday night.

Letting the match come to him and not forcing him to work, he finished the game with 24 points (9 rebounds, 3 assists) in a 10 of 15 shot from the ground. Rather than looking for his own shot, Markkanen made a more focused effort to get out and run a transition, using easy passes to help him find a rhythm.

“I got some easy looks at first,” he said. “I got some layovers by running a transition. … You just have to play with confidence and stick to it.”

Horton-Tucker had his best performance of the season, his best game of the year.

In 28 minutes, he filled the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and most importantly, no turns. He’s been aggressive by constantly attacking the edge but doing so in control and knowing when to keep the ball moving when he’s not having a shot. He also showed versatility, playing a solid defense in the fourth quarter while finding a role in attack while on the wing.

“I thought Tallinn was great. I thought his composure was really good,” Hardy said. “The other thing that stood out was his bounce. …it ended with seven follow-ups, which is pretty cool. I thought his decision making was good. …really proud of Tallinn.”

With the referees playing a large part of the game – 58 fouls were called – it was difficult for either team to find much rhythm.

Mike Conley came out more aggressive from the opening end, dropping three pointers on the first Utah possession before adding another bucket a few minutes later to give the Jazz an early 7-3 lead.

Jared Vanderbilt finished off a solid quarter when he missed a missed shot, giving him six points and six rebounds in the first 12 minutes for Utah to lead 22-21.

The Jazz took a two-goal lead midway through the second half, breaking the open match 11-4, aided by a pair of buckets from Markkanen and a Clarkson three-pointer. Utah remained hot in the rest of the quarter, leading 61-49 in the half.

Utah continued to withdraw in the third quarter, leading by 19 points on multiple points. But the jazz couldn’t land a knockout, as Houston managed to hit a big bucket over and over to keep themselves in it.

A 14-point lead to fourth, Utah went cold on the attack as the whistle brought the match to a halt. Houston took the opportunity, climbing into several one possession—but the Jazz was always responsive.

Whether it was Markanen’s bucket, 3-pointer Beasley owner, or Jazz dropping free throws, Utah kept the win.

Clarkson finished with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Conley scored 13 points and five assists. Paisley was brilliant off the bench, playing big minutes and finishing the game with 14 points, four rebounds and four possession.

Utah hits the road again, with Denver Friday night at 7 p.m., then the Jazz home to play Memphis on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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