"It's Not About One Person" | With Clarkson Again Questionable, Jazz Look To Make Playoff Push Against Charlotte

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

With injuries really taking a toll on the Utah Jazz, head coach Will Hardy knew that his team couldn't rely on one player's singular greatness. 

No matter how good Lauri Markkanen has been this year — and make no mistake, he's been All-NBA level sensational — the Jazz were going to need contributions from everyone if they wanted to make a push towards the postseason. 

But with Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton, Utah's second and third leading scorers, the Jazz were left with questions about who would step up on offense. Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji are rookies, Talen Horton-Tucker found himself in a role he's not accustomed to as the starting point guard, and Kris Dunn is on his second 10-day contract. 

Instead of looking to one player to fill the stat sheet alongside Markkanen, Hardy has gone a different route. He's running Utah's offense through various players, finding ways to put them in successful and comfortable situations that allow them to thrive but help take the pressure off Markkanen. 

While the concept may seem asinine to some, Utah proved it works after their victory over Orlando two nights ago. 

"We talk a lot about this being about the whole group," Hardy said after the win. "Everybody has something to bring, to contribute to us winning games. … I guess what I'm trying to highlight is that everybody contributed to this one."

Horton-Tucker had his best game of the year with 23 points and eight assists, while Agbaji and Kelly Olynyk combined for 21 points. Kessler chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds as the starters combined for 69.4% of Utah's points. 

But the biggest contributions came from Simone Fontecchio and Dunn, who combined for 29 points and six steals off the bench.

"That's how we're built," Hardy said. "That's how we try to operate every day. … It's not about one person."

The Jazz will look to continue that mantra when they face Charlotte on Saturday night. The good news is that after missing four of the past five games, Clarkson is again QUESTIONABLE on the injury report. 

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on January 23, 2023 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Utah (32-35, 12-22 away / No. 11 Western Conference)
*117.2 Points Per Game (No. 5 in NBA)
*115.9 Offensive Rating (No. 7 in NBA)
*117.3 Points Per Game (No. 22 in NBA)
*115.7 Defensive Rating (No. 24 in NBA)
*Lauri Markkanen: 25.4 points | 8.5 rebounds | 1.8 assists | 40.7% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 20.8 points | 4.4 assists | 4.0 rebounds | 33.8% 3P-shooting
*Kris Dunn: 12.6 points | 4.6 rebounds | 4.0 assists | 41.2% 3P-shooting
*Kelly Olynyk: 12.1 points | 5.5 rebounds | 3.3 assists | 39.8% 3P-shooting

Charlotte (22-46, 11-20 home / No. 14 Eastern Conference)

*111.8 Points Per Game (No. 26 in NBA)
*108.8 Offensive Rating (No. 30 in NBA)
*117.5 Points Per Game (No. 24 in NBA)
*114.5 Defensive Rating (No. 21 in NBA)
*Terry Rozier: 21.3 points | 4.9 assists | 4.2 rebounds | 33.0% 3P-shooting
*Kelly Oubre Jr.: 20.3 points | 5.3 rebounds | 1.4 steals
*P.J. Washington: 15.2 points | 4.8 rebounds | 2.4 assists | 34.8% 3P-shooting
*Gordon Hayward 14.5 points | 4.4 rebounds | 3.9 assists

*Lauri Markkanen vs. P.J. Washington
— Elevating his game to new levels after playing in his first All-Star game — averaging 30.3 since the break — Markkanen continues to be unstoppable regardless of what defense is throw at him. That’s why his battle with Charlotte will be a good one as Washington will try to be physical with Markkanen and get him out of a rhythm early.

QUESTIONABLE | Jordan Clarkson (left hand - fourth finger sprain)
OUT | Micah Potter (G League - Two-Way)
OUT | Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain)
QUESTIONABLE | Mark Williams (right thumb sprain)
OUT | LaMelo Ball (right ankle surgery)
OUT | James Bouknight (G League assignment)
OUT | Theo Maledon (G League - Two Way)
OUT | Cody Martin (left knee soreness)

 5:00 p.m. MT
Location: Spectrum Arena |Charlotte, NC
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network