"A Long Way To Go" | Five Things To Know Following Utah's Victory Over Charlotte

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Playing against a depleted Charlotte team on Monday night, the Jazz did precisely what was expected of them — even if it took a little longer than planned.

Despite a good effort from the Hornets, Utah's defense and elite shooting from deep prevailed as the Jazz won for the fifth time in seven games, taking down Charlotte 120-102 on Monday.

"Overall just a good, solid team win," head coach Will Hardy said. "That was four quarters of good defense for the most part. They're better than their record. … I think that our guys gave them the appropriate respect and came out and competed on both ends."

Here are five things to know following the win:

1.) Markkanen Ultra-Efficient
In what's already become the norm, Lauri Markkanen was sensational on Monday night against the Hornets.

On another efficient night, Markkanen finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, recording his fifth straight double-double midway through the third. He shot 8-of-14 from the field, 4-of-8 from deep, and 5-for-6 from the free throw line.

What made his night so impressive on the offensive end was how completely dominated on offense yet only took 14 shots. His ability to take what the defense gives to him and not have to go hunting for shots is a large reason why the Jazz have one of the league's best offenses.

One of the more interesting aspects of Monday's showdown was that Markkanen was featured at center a lot for the Jazz. With Utah's frontcourt depth limited with the absence of Kelly Olynyk, Markkanen found himself as the lone big man on the court for the Jazz. He showed off his defensive versatility by switching almost every screen and then had no problem banging down low with Charlotte's big men.

2.) Elite Defensive Performance
While some may say that Utah's defensive performance was expected against the Hornets, especially considering Charlotte has one of the league's lowest-scoring offenses, the Jazz still had to go out and execute their game plan.

And it was nearly perfect.

Utah held the Hornets to just 2-of-16 shooting from three-point territory, forcing 14 turnovers in the process. They were able to limit Charlotte for much of the night because of their ability to switch on the perimeter, forcing them to play a lot of iso ball instead of keeping the ball moving.

"I thought we executed on the defensive end tonight with switching and disrupting their offense," Hardy said. "I think we did a good job with our switching to kind of take away a lot of those off-the-dribble 3s, and then did a good job for the most part of containing the ball and recognizing when to help and when to fan back out to the shooters."

Former Jazzman Gordon Hayward agreed with that, noting postgame how Utah was able to dictate the game.

"We let them dictate too much on the defensive end," he said. "I feel like we didn't get enough good shots and kind of let the game get away from us there."

3.) It's Time To Shimmy
After starting the season scorching from beyond the arc, Malik Beasley cooled off in January. Before last Wednesday's game against the Clippers, Beasley was shooting a parsley 25.7% from beyond the arc — significantly below his season average.

But over the past three games, Beasley is slowly starting to come out of his midseason funk — and Monday was more of the same.

He knocked down 3-of-6 from deep, taking good shots within Utah's offense and not forcing the action. He's made 10-for-22 over those past three games, a much-more respectable 45.5% from three-point territory.

You could tell Beasley was feeling it on Monday as he hit did patented "shimmy" dance following a three that forced a Hornets timeout.

4.) Clarkson Is So Consistent
With Markkanen getting most of the headlines — and rightfully so — a lot of praise deserves to go Jordan Clarkson's way as well. In what's continuing to be a breakout season for the shooting guard, Clarkson overcame a slow start to finish with 18 points and two assists — sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

As Charlotte began to battle back into the game, it was Clarkson who put the Jazz on his shoulders in the third quarter by scoring 12 points. He continues to have this keen sense of knowing when the Jazz need him to take over, and he obliges by doing so.

5.) Western Conference Standings
There's no other way to say it, but the West is absolutely unbelievable right now.

As of Tuesday morning, only 5.5 games separate the third-seeded Kings and the 13th-seeded Blazers — and the Jazz sit right in the middle. Currently in the seventh seed, Utah is four games behind Sacramento and 1.5 games in front of Portland — their opponent on Wednesday night.

The standings are so crazy and fluctuate so much on a nightly basis that Hardy and the Jazz aren't paying attention in any way. When asked if he even looks at where the Jazz currently sit, Hardy gave a wholehearted laugh and emphatically replied with a "No, not at all."

"It's great, very competitive, a lot of teams right in the mix," he said. "We got a long way to go. … Things can really change between now and then. Our biggest focus is maintaining that mental edge because you can make a little bit of a run here with these pocket of games."