The San Antonio Spurs beat the new-look Utah Jazz, 111-104, in head coach Will Hardy’s preseason home debut.
It was never close as the Spurs built a 39-26 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
Spurs shooting guard Devin Vassell led all scorers with 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting. Utah’s Lauri Markkanen led the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Did we learn anything from the shell in Salt Lake City? Let’s break it down.
One glaring weakness the Jazz will have this year is rim protection. At some points in the game, it looked like the Spurs were in the middle of a layup.
Jazz starting center Kelly Olynyk can stretch the floor on the offensive end, but to say he’s not Rudy Gobert defensively would be the understatement of the year. Rookie Walker Kessler is their best rim protector, but he was called for three fouls in less than two minutes.
There will certainly be growing pains for this young Jazz team on defense this year.
Simon Fontecchio on the bench
When Bojan Bogdanovic was traded, it seemed to create a clear path for Fontecchio to earn minutes at the small forward position. The Italian sharpshooter was coming off a summer where he looked like the real deal at the FIBA World Cup.
But since coming to Salt Lake City, Fontecchio has looked lost, and at this stage, he’s in danger of not even cracking the rotation. Fontecchio wasn’t inserted into Tuesday night’s game until the fourth quarter, where he managed to score eight points in 12 minutes of action.
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It’s an improvement, as he knocked down a few 3-pointers, but it looks like he’s still adjusting to the NBA style of play.
Is Jordan Clarkson starting?
It looks like Clarkson’s days coming off the bench may be coming to an end. The former Sixth Man of the Year started for the second straight game.
That’s not a sure thing, with newcomer Malik Beasley unavailable due to an ankle injury, but Utah needs a shot creator on the floor to start the game, and Clarkson fits the bill.
Roster Bubble Clock
Sophomore pro Jared Butler helped the team’s cause by scoring 13 points, but more importantly, he was given 15 minutes of action in the first half. It looks like his position is secure.
Veteran Rudy Gay had another subpar performance with just eight points in 25 minutes. The trade market for Gay doesn’t exist, and Utah’s only options are a waiver/buyout or keeping a player who probably doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild.
Neither shooting guard Leandro Bolmaro nor forward Stanley Johnson played. Could this be a sign that they could quit before the October 17 deadline?
The Jazz wrap up their preseason with a home game this Friday against the Dallas Mavericks.
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