The Utah Jazz were just off on Friday night.

Rookie Walker Kessler, fresh off an incredible performance on Wednesday, had one of his worst games in recent memory. He got in foul trouble early and then was benched for the entire fourth quarter. Lauri Markkanen was less effective than he has been lately. Malik Beasley couldn’t shoot his way out of a slump.

The defense was late on just about everything, Jazz head coach Will Hardy was trying to find a spark anywhere he could, and overall, the Jazz were just not having a good night.

They were down by as many as 22 points and tried to rally to comeback, but their efforts proved to be futile as the Atlanta Hawks came away with the win to the tune of 115-108.

Some insight into Will Hardy’s coaching decisions

It’s the second time that we’ve seen Hardy bench Kessler in the fourth quarter after the rookie struggled throughout the night. So we know that he’s willing to change up his rotations at least with his younger players based on performance. But, this time we saw that Hardy is also willing to turn away from a more proven player when he’s not having a good night.

Malik Beasley was just 1-of-8 from deep on Friday night and although he usually averages 27 minutes per night, he played just 17 minutes, 30 seconds against the Hawks.

I asked Hardy if he had an overarching philosophy when it comes to situations like this. Does he want to allow players to play through struggles, or does he believe that some nights guys just don’t have it and they should be pulled? He pointed to his actions against the Hawks as an answer to the question.

“Malik only played 17-and-a-half minutes, and he normally plays more. So I think that’s kind of my way of saying he just didn’t have it tonight,” Hardy said. “Malik is a shooter that we believe in very much and I thought he got some good looks. I also thought he took some tough ones to try to kind of get himself out of a rut, which is natural at times … he knows how much I believe in him and how much his teammates believe in him. But yeah, I do think there are moments where it’s like, hey, we just got to go with something else.”

To Beasley’s credit, he was not hanging his head about the situation and was not disgruntled about being pulled from the game. He actually had a really good attitude about it.

“I always want to play no matter if I’m making or missing, but coach felt like Ochai (Agbaji) and a few other players were in a better spot tonight, and they were. They were hitting,” Beasley said. “Ochai did a great job. I was proud of him. I’m never mad if my teammates are doing better, it’s just about getting a win. That’s all that matters. Just didn’t happen tonight.”

I think that a lot of Jazz fans are so accustomed to the rigidity of the rotations that Quin Snyder had, that’s it’s really different to have a head coach that is willing to make such big changes. I imagine that it’s probably pretty refreshing.

Transition buckets off makes

The Jazz had a lot of problems early on in the season with the execution of their transition defense and they’ve done a lot of work to try to clean up some of that over the course of the last couple of months. But … those problems were often from live-ball turnovers and long rebounds. You know, your classic fast break scenarios.

Well, the Atlanta Hawks were pushing the pace so much off of made baskets that they were getting transition buckets when the Jazz should have been playing halfcourt defense.

“Those possessions are as frustrating as any of them,” Hardy said. “You’re in kind of a rut offensively and you get a made basket, and everybody’s reaction is kind of like, ‘oh my God,’ (big sigh) they’re relieved that we made a basket instead of immediately switching their brains to sprinting back on defense.”

And the Hawks punished them every time they saw that the Jazz were slow getting back. It wasn’t like it was a point of emphasis in the Hawks’ gameplan or has been a point of emphasis for the Hawks this season, I know because I asked De’Andre Hunter about it after the game.

“I mean, we definitely try to push the ball more, but not necessarily off makes,” Hunter said. “It was just more-so they weren’t getting back, so, easy buckets.”

Tough, but fair.

3 keys to the Utah Jazz’s 115-108 loss to the Atlanta Hawks
Will the Utah Jazz make any moves at the NBA trade deadline? Here are the latest rumblings

Mike Conley plays 1000th game

The loss to the Hawks marked Conley’s 1,000th game in the NBA, which is a pretty impressive milestone for a player. I think that we can often forget just how long Conley has been in the league and how productive he continues to be.

Friday he scored a season-high 20 points, shooting 7-of-9 overall and added in eight assists. While that seems like a very Conley-esque type of game, he even admitted to sometimes feeling like he surprises himself with what he’s able to do after 16 years in the league.

“In the game I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t move at all.’ But on tape, I’m like ‘Oh my God, I was quick,’” Conley said with a laugh. “You see the first step and there’s certain things that are still there and I can still move. I’m happy to still be able to do that and to continue to work on my body, and to try to stay at that level as long as I can.”