On Saturday night, some things started to click into place for the Utah Jazz.

In their first home game of the preseason, the players seemed to shake off some of the nerves and cobwebs that had dragged them down in the previous two games on the road.

The Jazz ended up besting the Portland Trail Blazers 138-133 Saturday, and not only did things feel a little less clunky, but the Jazz tried out some more rotations and different lineups, giving us a little more of a glimpse inside the thinking of the coaching staff.

Four-guard lineups

Will Hardy deployed a couple versions of a four-guard lineup, one with Kelly Olynyk playing the five and another with Walker Kessler holding things down at the rim.

Surrounding the center were Keyonte George, Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji.

I wondered how much preparation went into this lineup decision, and Hardy assured me that this is something the Jazz are legitimately considering using.

“Nothing that we’ve thrown out is us just spinning the wheel to see what happens,” Hardy said. “We think through it and we think there’s positives and negatives to every group and we want to see what they look like.

“That group is something that we’re obviously considering — for us to have put it out there for that amount of time in the third preseason game. I think they handled themselves pretty well.”

Hardy said he liked the lineup with Kessler at the five because it gave the group more of a defensive edge and there were advantages for all the guards on the court.

Agbaji is able to fly around, cut and defend in a way that suits him best while George, Dunn and Sexton are all able to punish the defense with their dribble-drive games.

Playing four-out opens up a lot of space on the floor for the guys to operate, and by the way, the players responded after the game that they really think that lineup has a chance to be used during the regular season.

But it wasn’t all perfect.

“We understand, as a staff, there’s give and take with every lineup,” Hardy said. “That group, you know, we’ve messed around with it in practice some and they’ve shown us the ability to really pressure the ball defensively and then offensively create advantages off the dribble, but we’re going to have to keep working defensively.”

Specifically, the guards on the floor have to do a better job on the glass, and that doesn’t always mean crashing the boards and rebounding by committee.

Instead it requires a better level of attention to detail once the ball goes up — boxing out, finding a player and making contact, not ball watching.

It’s way, way too early to look at the stats from this, and I’d really prefer to hold off on that until the Jazz actually use this lineup in a game that has actual win-loss result stakes. But, my initial instinct is to say it’s a good way to get the very large guard pool some playing time while also letting guys like Sexton and Agbaji do what they do best. But there will certainly be nights when it doesn’t work.

John Collins’ best game with the Jazz

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There has never been a reason to believe that John Collins was going to struggle forever in acclimating to a new team, but after Saturday’s performance, there could be reason to believe that he is coming along a lot quicker than anyone anticipated.

He finished the night with 15 points and three rebounds while shooting 5 of 7 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line, but even the efficient statline doesn’t show the whole picture.

Collins seemed to be jelling with his teammates a little better and operating in space with more intention and understanding.

Collins has mentioned that learning to play in a system with more movement has been an adjustment, especially considering how he was often stationary in certain sets with the Atlanta Hawks, so to see him really get a feel for the game and thriving with the freedom was a good sign.

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