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Talen Horton-Tucker finding his way with the Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker adjusting under head coach Will Hardy

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Utah Jazz head coach and guard Talen Horton-Tucker (0) talk late in the fourth quarter as they solidify their win over the Houston Rockets at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

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Prior to Wednesday night’s game, Talen Horton-Tucker had yet to record more than 17 minutes in a game for the Utah Jazz and had been kind of up-and-down in his short stints off the bench.

But when some foul trouble to multiple Jazz players and an injury to Collin Sexton (oblique contusion) opened up the rotation on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, Horton-Tucker had his best game since being acquired by the Jazz in the trade that sent Patrick Beverley to the Los Angeles Lakers.

He finished the night with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. Some of what we’ve seen in previous stints from Horton-Tucker has been limited to his athleticism around the rim but he showed his versatility against the Rockets.

He showed off an athletic reverse layup that illustrated how dynamic he can be with his body, a perfect catch-and-shoot corner 3, a fadeaway jumper from the midrange, a 3-pointer from the top-right of the arc and finally an absolute ax of a dunk that had the whole arena on their feet.

“I thought Talen was great,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I thought his composure was really good. Did a much better job playing off two feet and in the paint made some good decisions. I think the other thing that really stood out with him was his rebounding. Playing with some smaller lineups. Everybody has to step up on the glass and he ended with seven rebounds, which is fantastic.”

Horton-Tucker was honest when he was asked about how he’s progressing on the defensive end, saying that he’s slowly but surely getting up to speed with what Hardy wants. He was again very honest when asked how comfortable he is in his offensive role with this Jazz team.

“I’m really not sure,” he said. “I still really haven’t seen exactly where I fit yet. But I’m just trying to show the coaching staff that I can play with any group and am able to be versatile. I feel like if I can bring that to our team, it’ll be great.”

One of the things that Horton-Tucker noted is that Hardy’s coaching style has given him and the rest of the team the confidence not to just go out on the court and succeed, but the confidence to not feel like they’ll lose their spot if they fail.

“For any player in the NBA, that’s amazing,” Horton-Tucker said. “Coach, he sat us down, talked to us and was saying that he’s not going to overanalyze anything that we do. When a coach gives you freedom like that and that type of push, I feel like it does wonders for NBA careers.”

New with the Jazz

This week in Jazz history

On Oct. 30, 2001, John Stockton stepped onto the floor with the Utah Jazz on opening night, beginning his 18th season with the same team, establishing the longest tenure with one organization. Stockton had been tied with Hakeem Olajuwon, whose 17 consecutive seasons with the Houston Rockets ended when he joined the Toronto Raptors during the offseason.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew recaps the surprising 4-1 start to the 2022-23 season for the Jazz and make their picks for the upcoming games. Also, check out the bonus episode that was released on Sunday!

The podcast has moved to a new feed, so remember to follow or subscribe by searching for “Unsalvageable” through your podcast provider.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

Extra points

  • Lauri Markkanen has looked like a star for the Utah Jazz (Deseret News)
  • You’ll be able to watch all of Victor Wembanyama’s games. Here’s how (Deseret News)
  • How the national media has reacted to the Utah Jazz’s hot start (Deseret News)
  • Rudy Gobert says world has never seen someone like Wembanyama (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

The NBA is exploring implementing a salary spending limit.

After an impressive start to the season, Damian Lillard sidelined with calf strain.

Lakers to bring Russell Westbrook off the bench.

Up next

Oct. 28 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 29 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 31 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 2 | 6:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Dallas Mavericks | AT&T SportsNet

Nov. 4 | 8:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers | AT&T SportsNet