"I'm All For The Fight" | Jazz Wrap Up Road Trip With Pivotal Sunday Matinee Showdown Against Brooklyn

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

It's rare for a head coach to learn something new about his team in the 77th game of the season — yet that was precisely the situation for Will Hardy and the Jazz found themselves in on Friday night in Boston. 

In fact, it wasn't so much that Hardy discovered something new about his team, but instead, he saw something he hadn't seen before.

Despite playing without their top three leading scorers, Utah refused to back down from a physical Celtics squad. Not only did they not back down, but they were also just as physical with the Celtics throughout the game. 

"I'm not disappointed by our team tonight at all," he said following the 122-114 loss. "I thought they had backbone, they fought, they didn't back down. The game got chippy, both teams were a little bit chippy. Nobody was dirty in any way. … That's just a really hard-fought competitive NBA game."

It may have been the 77th game of the season, but seeing his team respond to one of the more physical teams in the league is something Hardy believes will make his team significantly better as the years go on. It's even more impressive considering the environment the Jazz played in, as the TD Center in Boston is as raucous and passionate as there is in the league.

"I'm all for the fight. … I'm not for fighting," he said. "There are moments in sports where it is chippy, and guys get tangled up, and guys start chirping, and I'm glad that our team doesn't back down."

In the end, there were four technical fouls — two each by Utah and Boston — and one flagrant given out. Kris Dunn was ejected after being given his second technical, but Hardy understands that sometimes, it's part of the game. 

"I understand that sometimes the emotions get the best of you," Hardy said of Dunn. "He didn't throw a punch, he didn't do anything outrageous, he just kept the talk going. … The worst thing that can happen is a bench-clearing fight, so I understand the officials at that point were doing what they had to do to get everybody out of the gym safely."

With just five games to go and the Jazz need to go 5-0 or 4-1 (at worst) to make a real push for one of the play-in spots, Hardy is happy seeing his team refuse to wilt to more physical opponents. On Sunday, he expects the same sort of effort and mentality when Utah closes its three-game road trip with a matinee showdown against the new-look Nets in Brooklyn. 

Utah (36-41, 14-25 away / No. 12 Western Conference)
*117.2 Points Per Game (No. 6 in NBA)
*115.7 Offensive Rating (No. 7 in NBA)
*117.9 Points Per Game (No. 24 in NBA)
*116.1 Defensive Rating (No. 25 in NBA)
*Lauri Markkanen: 25.7 points | 8.6 rebounds | 1.9 assists | 39.6% 3P-shooting
*Kelly Olynyk: 12.2 points | 5.9 rebounds | 3.6 assists | 38.4% 3P-shooting
*Talen Horton-Tucker (Last 10 Games): 19.3 points | 6.6 assists | 5.8 rebounds
*Walker Kessler (Last 10 Games): 13.9 points | 9.9 rebounds | 3.0 blocks

Brooklyn (42-35, 21-16 home/ No. 6 Eastern Conference)

*113.7 Points Per Game (No. 17 in NBA)
*114.9 Offensive Rating (No. 10 in NBA)
*112.8 Points Per Game (No. 13 in NBA)
*113.7 Defensive Rating (No. 16 in NBA)
*Mikal Bridges: 27.5 points | 4.6 rebounds | 2.7 assists | 43.4% 3P-shooting
*Spencer Dinwiddie: 16.8 points | 8.5 assists | 4.1 rebounds
*Nic Claxton: 12.6 points | 9.2 rebounds | 2.5 blocks | 70.4% shooting

*Walker Kessler vs. Nic Claxton
— Two of the better and more impactful defensive centers in the league go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon when Walker Kessler faces Nic Claxton. Both of them are integral and vital to the success of each team on both ends of the court, but their true impact lies in their ability to protect the rim. 

QUESTIONABLE | Lauri Markkanen (left hand contusion)
OUT | Jordan Clarkson (left hand - fourth finger sprain)
OUT | Rudy Gay (low back soreness)
OUT | Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain)

OUT | David Duke Jr. (G League - Two-Way)
OUT | Ben Simmons (back nerve impingement)
OUT | Dru Smith (G League - Two-Way)

 1:30 p.m. MT
Location: Barclays Center |Brooklyn, NY
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network