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Jazz fall to Clippers in first Summer League loss, dashing championship hopes

Utah Jazz’s Udoka Azubuike looks to pass against Los Angeles Clippers’ Isaiah Hicks during an NBA summer league game.
Utah Jazz’s Udoka Azubuike looks to pass against Los Angeles Clippers’ Isaiah Hicks during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas.
John Locher, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — The Utah Jazz will not be playing in the Summer League championship game.

After a 94-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Jazz will play just one more consolation game before leaving Sin City without any hardware.

Rather than playing through a more traditional tournament, as the NBA has done in past summer leagues, the top two teams after four games will compete for the championship trophy.

Heading into Sunday, the Jazz were one of five teams (Boston, Sacramento, Minnesota, New Orleans) that were still undefeated, but in the event that two or more teams had matching records after playing four games, point differential would be used as a tiebreaker.

Of the teams that were undefeated heading into Sunday’s games, the Jazz had the smallest point-differential. Since Boston and Sacramento both finished with 4-0 records, in order for the Jazz to make it to the championship game they would have had to beat the Clippers by at least 30 points and even then, a Minnesota or New Orleans win on Sunday could have knocked them out of contention.

Knowing that the odds were stacked against them, the Jazz’s summer league squad, while wanting to win, seemed to come out with a little less focus than they had in the previous three games in Las Vegas.

“A little bit,” Trent Forrest said of the situation being a bit deflating. “All of us really wanted to play, even the coaches wanted to be in the championship. It’s definitely tough knowing that we won’t be playing.”

The Jazz trailed most of the game and tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, spurred mostly by the shooting of Elijah Hughes, but it was too little too late.

“I think our focus coming out in the game — we weren’t ready from the jump ball,” Jazz summer league coach Bryan Bailey said. “We looked like we were cruising a little bit, happy to be where we were.”

Though the Jazz won’t be playing in the championship game, they were able to see valuable minutes out of some of the younger players like Hughes, Udoka Azubuike and Forrest ahead of training camp, which opens up in late September.

MaCio Teague to join Jazz training camp roster

The Jazz announced on Sunday that the team has signed Baylor guard MaCio Teague. League sources confirmed that the contract is an Exhibit 10 deal.

These kind of NBA contracts are non-guaranteed and allow the team to waive the player, but incentivizes players to stay with a team’s G League affiliate by offering bonuses of up to $50,000 that are voided if the player decides to play overseas.

So basically, Teague is likely to be on the Jazz’s training camp roster and then the SLC Stars unless he decides to take an international contract. The Jazz also have their second two-way spot still open and Exhibit 10s can be converted to two-way deals.

“He’s been great being able to come off the bench as a secondary ball-handler,” Bailey said of Teague. “He’s someone that can go out there and get a basket on his own, plays through our system and is able to defend as well.”