Jazz guard Jared Butler plays better, but Utah finishes 0-3 in Salt Lake City Summer League
Butler, a second-round pick out of Baylor, scored 22 points, but wasn’t the dominating force the Jazz hoped he would be in Salt Lake City
After missing his first six shots Thursday night in the Salt Lake City Summer League, the Utah Jazz’s Jared Butler finally hit a 3-pointer with just under five minutes remaining in the second quarter and immediately glanced heavenward, as if to thank the basketball gods for ending the drought.
Butler, one of the few members on the Jazz’s Summer League roster with a decent chance to make the squad this fall, perhaps the only one, eventually finished with 22 points on 8 of 21 shooting as Utah dropped a 95-84 decision to the Memphis Grizzlies at Vivint Arena.
Utah went 0-3 in its own Summer League, not surprising considering it lacked some of the firepower other teams possessed. Utah didn’t have a pick in the recent draft, and it is not known yet if some of the players acquired in the Rudy Gobert trade, such as No. 22 pick Walker Kessler of Auburn, will join the team at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Summer League coach Bryan Bailey said even he doesn’t know.
The Jazz did have Butler. The three-game set was seen as a chance for the 6-foot-3 guard from Baylor who was picked in the second round of the NBA draft last summer to show new coach Will Hardy what he can do.
In the opener on Tuesday, Butler was 3 of 10 from the floor for 10 points, with four assists and three turnovers in 22 minutes, 19 seconds. He did not play on Wednesday.
Thursday, he was better, particularly after that first shot fell. He finished 4 of 15 from 3-point range and had seven rebounds and seven assists in nearly 29 minutes.
“Jared was better tonight,” Bailey said. “We have been harping on the defensive end for him. I think he had some possessions where he really guarded well, kept guys in front and got into the passing lanes. ... He finished with seven assists. I think overall he had a good game.”
Butler said it is difficult to balance running a team with getting in rhythm offensive, but noted that is why point guards make the money they do. “I just try to take good (shots) and just shots I am comfortable taking and shoot them in rhythm,” he said.
The guard said he is looking forward to getting to Las Vegas next and developing better chemistry in the pick-and-roll with guys such as Kofi Cockburn.
“I just want to improve as a player,” he said of his own goals.
Speaking of the Jazz coaching situation, lead assistant Alex Jensen was in the building Thursday, dressed in Jazz gear. No announcement has come yet on whether the former University of Utah star will be a part of Hardy’s new staff.
Along with Butler, Bailey started Caleb Homesly, Cockburn, Xavier Sneed and Borisa Simanic.
Cockburn, out of Illinois, said the biggest different between college and pro ball “is not being the man” the offense revolves around.
Coburn had a nifty dunk at the end of the first quarter, taking a lob from Bruno Caboclo to give the Jazz a 29-17 lead.
Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 giant from Senegal who has played for the Celtics and Cavaliers his first couple of seasons in the NBA, checked in to start the second quarter and received one of the bigger roars of approval of the night from the Vivint crowd.
Fall immediately blocked a shot, got the rebound, and dribbled the length of the court, much to the delight of the crowd. He was subsequently fouled, then had a dunk and was fouled again, but missed the free throw as fans chanted “Tacko, Tacko.”
The former UCF star had another dunk around the eight-minute mark of the second quarter.
In the second half, fans chanted “We want Tacko” and their persistence was rewarded in the fourth quarter when Bailey put him back in after Memphis had rolled out to a 74-68 lead with just over eight minutes remaining.
It didn’t matter, as the Grizzlies gradually pulled away.
Another series of plays that got a rise out of the crowd came late in the second quarter when Caboclo blocked a dunk attempt by Santi Aldama, a swat that led to a layup at the other end by Butler. Aldama had drawn the ire of fans earlier with a shot to Utah guard Justin Robinson’s face that went uncalled but earned him a stare-down from Robinson.
Johnny Juzang, the former UCLA star, missed all three games in the Summer League after being involved in an automobile accident in Utah last weekend and remains in concussion protocol.
Giddey gets it done, but OKC loses
In the first game, Oklahoma City’s bid to go undefeated in SLC was scuttled by Philadelphia, which got a 3-pointer from Isaiah Joe with 24 seconds remaining to win 80-79.
Tre Mann’s 3-pointer in the final seconds fell short.
A night after posting the first triple-double in SLC Summer League history, Josh Giddey had a relatively quiet night with 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Giddey’s triple-double Wednesday included 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The Australian who was the No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft was arguably the best overall player in the tournament.
Even as Jazz fans were arriving at the arena for the second game, Giddey put on a show. After Philly’s Malik Ellison swatted one of his shots, Giddey got immediate payback.
He drove the lane and posterized Ellison, then stared down the 6-6 Ellison. That drew a technical foul, much to the displeasure of the crowd.
Former Gonzaga star Chet Holmgren, OKC’s No. 2 pick in the recent NBA draft, did not play Thursday after at outstanding performance on Tuesday and a mediocre one on Wednesday.
Giddey and Holmgren both said they were developing some nice chemistry already. Giddey appeared in 54 games for the Thunder last season, averaging 12.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in his inaugural season before it ended prematurely due to a hip ailment.