"One Of Those Nights" | Markkanen Looks To Bounce Back As Utah Wraps Up Road Trip Against Miami

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

Regardless of how good Lauri Markkanen has been this season — and make no mistake, he's played at an all-NBA level this year — the man isn't perfect. 

Even for someone who's flirting with an insane 50-40-90 season, bad games happen. Nobody plays perfectly for 82 games of the year — and for Markkanen, Saturday night in Charlotte was as bad as it got. He finished the night shooting just 3-of-22 from the field and 1-for-9 from the field, by far his worst output while in Jazz uniform. 

But when reporters entered the locker room following the victory over Charlotte, they didn't find the Finnisher sulking in front of his locker. Instead, they found him cheery and upbeat, congratulating teammate Talen Horton-Tucker on a sensational game, placing his order for his postgame meal, and just smiling and laughing all around. 

According to him, what else was he supposed to be like? Utah got the win, and that's all that mattered. 

"That kind of thing can happen. … It hasn't happened in a while," he said about his off night. Then, after a quick pause, he said the most important words — words he wants to make sure everyone knows are most valuable to him.

"But we got the win, and that's the most important thing."

Even for someone as special as Markkanen, even for someone amid an all-time breakout season, he understands that there will be nights when everything can go right EXCEPT for the ball going in the hoop. 

Shots that had fallen for him for the entire season refused to go down. He ran the same plays, came off the screens, and got the same looks, but they didn't fall for some reason. That happens; he gets that, so he refused to fret over it. 

"It got pretty ridiculous," he said. "You can't really do anything but laugh about that. I mean, they were all good looks; they felt fine. I guess it was just one of those nights."

When asked postgame about Markkanen's shooting woes, head coach Will Hardy gave a sly smile, thinking of something funny or sarcastic to say about the off shooting night. But rather than focus on the negative, he credited Markkanen for sticking with the offense and still helping make the team better. 

Markkanen stayed aggressive and kept shooting when he got good looks, forcing Charlotte to double-team him and throw extra defenders at him. In turn, it opened up things for other players like Horton-Tucker's near triple-double, Walker Kessler's double-double, and a quiet 17-point night for Kelly Olynyk. 

Instead of fretting over the missed shots, Markkanen was much more engaged defensively and on the glass, where he grabbed 13 rebounds — his most since Feb. 1. He also dished out three assists, his most since returning from the All-Star break.

"I thought Lauri played a good game," Hardy said. "Like, in terms of the shots he was taking, the looks he was getting, the attacking that he was doing, he just didn't convert anything."

While he has bad games this season, he's always responded positively the next time on the court — and make no mistake, the Jazz will need another great performance from him as they cap off their six-game road trip with a showdown in Miami against the Heat. 

Utah (33-35, 13-22 away / No. 10 Western Conference)
*117.3 Points Per Game (No. 6 in NBA)
*115.9 Offensive Rating (No. 8 in NBA)
*117.2 Points Per Game (No. 21 in NBA)
*115.7 Defensive Rating (No. 24 in NBA)
*Lauri Markkanen: 25.2 points | 8.6 rebounds | 1.8 assists | 40.1% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 20.8 points | 4.4 assists | 4.0 rebounds | 33.8% 3P-shooting
*Kelly Olynyk: 12.1 points | 5.6 rebounds | 3.3 assists | 40.0% 3P-shooting
*Kris Dunn: 11.9 points | 4.6 rebounds | 4.0 assists | 36.8% 3P-shooting

Miami (36-33, 22-13 home / No. 7 Eastern Conference)

*108.6 Points Per Game (No. 30 in NBA)
*111.1 Offensive Rating (No. 26 in NBA)
*109.4 Points Per Game (No. 2 in NBA)
*112.2Defensive Rating (No. 7 in NBA)
*Jimmy Butler: 22.6 points | 6.0 rebounds | 5.1 assists | 33.3% 3P-shooting
*Bam Adebayo: 21.0 points | 9.4 rebounds | 3.3 assists
*Tyler Herro: 20.3 points | 5.7 rebounds | 4.3 assists | 38.0% 3P-shooting

*Lauri Markkanen vs. Jimmy Butler
— Despite Saturday’s showing, Markkanen has been dominant for much of the season and looks like a legitimate All-NBA candidate. One of the players he’s battling for one of those highly coveted spots is Butler, someone who has helped carry Miami to the postseason again. Get your popcorn ready, these two head-to-head is going to be fun. 

SALT LAKE CITY UT- DECEMBER 28: Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz walks to the foul line against the Miami Heat during the second half of their game December 31, 2022 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

QUESTIONABLE | Jordan Clarkson (left hand - fourth finger sprain)
OUT | Micah Potter (G League - Two-Way)
OUT | Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain)

 5:30 p.m. MT
Location: Miami-Dade Arena |Miami, FL
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network