“I never question the efforts of our team” | Utah fights to the end but doesn’t lose ‘ Utah

There is no stopping in jazz.

Despite trailing in double digits late in the fourth quarter, Utah had a chance to end the game late but failed to complete the comeback — falling 121-114 to the LA Clippers on Monday night.

“It’s a frustrating game,” said head coach Will Hardy. “Our identity is to play hard and pass. I never question the efforts of our team. … I think we continue to play hard, but tonight sometimes I don’t think we folded.”

The ending was not without drama that was expected between these two teams.

Talen Horton-Tucker, five down with just under a minute to go, caught the ball on the wing and drove hard to the basket. He collided with LA’s Amir Coffey, ending the layup with a foul and a chance for a three-point game.

But Clippers coach Ty Lue challenged the call – and won. The two points came off the board, and Horton-Tucker was called for an offensive foul, returning the ball to the Clippers.

“I’m also part of this group. … I obviously didn’t have a perfect night when we lost by 7,” Hardy said of the need to get better. “I will never sit here and blame the team, blame the players that we lost a game. … We win together and we lose together. I’ll go back and watch the film and figure out what we can do to help our team get better.”

Lauri Markkanen continues to play like one of the top players in the league and Monday night’s game against the Clippers was no different.

Markkanen took on one of the best defensive backs in the league — particularly on the outside — and finished the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds, adding three assists and a block. With Conley out, the Jazz opted to play through Markkanen for most of the second half, and he responded by dominating in the paint.

Jordan Clarkson played the role of host without Conley and was great for jazz. While more comfortable in the role, he was tasked with bringing Utah into their sets.

He finished with 26 points and four assists, shooting 8 of 18 from the floor and 4 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Even without Conley, jazz got off to a flying start. Markkanen drilled a three-pointer on opening ball as Utah touched the ball on their first three goals for an early 7-2 lead.

After the Clippers reacted to take the lead midway through the quarter, Clarkson was fouled on a three-point try, knocking them all out. Unfortunately, it was LA the rest of the way, finishing the first on a 17-6 run while the Jazz trailed 34-24.

The Clippers picked up where they left off and took an early 17-point lead. But Utah responded with five straight points to keep it close. LA regained that 17-point lead a few minutes later, but the Jazz hit back again with an 11-3 run.

Utah was 64-54 down at the break.

It was a similar start for the Jazz from the halftime, as three points from Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk made it a four-point game. But the Clippers settled on both ends, extending the lead back to double digits mid-quarter.

An elite shooting team all season, the Jazz later found their shots in the third. They went on a 23-6 run when Olynyk, Malik Beasley and Horton-Tucker drilled three-pointers.

Utah led 93-88 into the last 12 minutes.

The Clippers started strong in fourth and went down the middle with an 18-6 run to reclaim the 106-101 lead. Utah’s deficit grew to 10 before Horton-Tucker drilled a three and Olynyk knocked down two free throws – setting the stage for the dramatic ending.

Olynyk finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Jarred Vanderbilt added six points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Collin Sexton – who started in place of Conley – ended with 10 points while Horton-Tucker added 14 from the bench.

Utah returns home to welcome back former jazzman Bojan Bogdanovic and the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm MST and tickets can be purchased HERE.

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