After storming out to a surprising start and vaulting to the top of the Western Conference a month into the season, the Utah Jazz hit their biggest slump so far.
With a good chance of ending their season-worst losing streak Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Jazz coach Will Hardy wasn't about to let the opportunity slide. That included him playing Kelly Olynyk, Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton for extended time while tightening up the rotation.
The move paid off for the Jazz, who are relieved to enter Friday's contest against the Indiana Pacers in Salt Lake City on a positive note after defeating the Clippers 125-112.
"I thought those guys had good mojo tonight. It was just a feel thing," Hardy said in Wednesday's postgame press conference. "Nobody necessarily did anything wrong or terrible. It was just I thought that group was playing very well. I thought it was really important that we come out of tonight with a win."
The Jazz starters who logged the most amount of floor time responded. Clarkson had a season-high 33 points. Markkanen scored 23 with nine rebounds. Sexton totaled 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Jarred Vanderbilt put up 14 points and 12 rebounds. Olynyk added 12 points with seven rebounds.
Vanderbilt was the only Jazz starter who saw his usual amount of action with 25 minutes. Clarkson played 40 minutes, Olynyk and Markkanen each played 36 and Sexton was on the court for 31.
The Jazz shot 54.9 percent from the field and put away the short-handed Clippers when it mattered most in the fourth quarter.
"We were playing to our style of basketball," Markkanen said. "We were getting good looks. It didn't really matter who's shooting as long as it goes in and we're getting good looks."
The key is to string together solid performances in a row now that the schedule has turned in Utah's favor. Friday's game will be the third date of a six-game homestand.
Indiana is hoping to get back on track after falling to 1-2 on its challenging seven-game road trip.
The Pacers were walloped in Sacramento on Wednesday, 137-114.
"Kings outplayed us tonight," Tyrese Haliburton said. "They're a good team."
Jalen Smith and Bennedict Mathurin each scored 22 points to pace the Pacers, who nevertheless have a better record in the past 10 games than the Jazz (7-3 vs. 3-7).
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle was disappointed by how the Pacers were outscored 31-8 in fast-break points.
"Tough game. This game is on me. I didn't have them prepared for what was coming," Carlisle said. "The transition points really tell the story of the game. We were a step slow."
Utah is 7-3 so far at home, while Indiana enters this matchup with a 5-5 record on the road. The Pacers kicked off their current swing in Los Angeles with a loss to the Clippers followed by a thrilling last-second win over the Lakers.
--Field Level Media