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Analysis: Will Hardy uses humor after blowout loss to Bucks, Simone Fontecchio’s shooting, and Joe Ingles’ return

SHARE Analysis: Will Hardy uses humor after blowout loss to Bucks, Simone Fontecchio’s shooting, and Joe Ingles’ return

Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41)is surrounded on defense by the Milwaukee Bucks in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 24, 2023. The Bucks won 144-116.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz played the best team in the NBA on Friday night and it did not go very well. The Milwaukee Bucks waltzed their way to a very easy 144-116 win.

It should be noted that the Jazz played without Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton and Rudy Gay, but no matter the circumstances it was one of, if not the worst and ugliest losses of the season for this Jazz team.

Using humor to lighten the mood

Jazz head coach Will Hardy went into the locker room after the loss and looked around at a team that was disappointed, frustrated and embarrassed. He figured that maybe the best way to handle things was with a little humor.

“Well, we almost had ‘em,” he said.

The joke went over so well that Hardy busted it out once again when he opened up his post game press conference with reporters.

“He came in and made a joke instead of grilling us,” Talen Horton-Tucker said. “It’s a lot better to be in an environment like that when a coach is not gonna harp on too much of the bad, to have a short term memory like we all have been saying we should.”

In an 82-game season there are certainly some good teaching moments and there are situations where it makes sense to be mad. But when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez just run circles around you because they are a well-oiled, battle-tested machine, it’s really easy to just look at the result and say exactly what Hardy did.

“It’s a great learning moment for our team,” Hardy said. “Because that’s where we want to be, like we want to be at the level of that team. And sometimes in the NBA, it feels worse than it is.”

Fontecchio shooting on the move

There are actually a lot of players in the NBA that can hit catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. There are a lot that can reliably hit 3’s off the dribble. But there are fewer shooters that are able to hit 3’s on the move.

Simone Fontecchio, who had a career-high 26 points against the Bucks, is slowly but steadily showing more and more why the Jazz wanted to give him a shot and why he could be a useful part of a team going forward.

One of the things he can do well is turn a corner off a screen and get a shot off really quickly. And when he does that, everyone of his teammates and coaches believes that it’s going to go in.

“It’s incredibly valuable,” Hardy said. ”When we talk about 3-point shooting in the NBA and how important it is, some of the best shooters, yes they make shots, but the most impressive thing is how many they can get off. Like Steph Curry is the premier shooter in the league and his greatest skill is his ability to get 3’s off in tight windows with an array of footwork going both ways…(Simone’s) done a really good job on the move. He’s very athletic and he’s able to find balance well and he has a good wide base. So it’s a huge luxury for us.”

The Aussie returns

Joe Ingles hadn’t played a game in Vivint Arena since Jan. 26, 2022.

After tearing his ACL on the road on Jan. 30 2022, the Jazz ended up trading Ingles to the Portland Trail Blazers. This past offseason, he signed a free agent deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and finally made his return to play on Dec.19, just two days after the Jazz were in Milwaukee.

On Friday night the Jazz welcomed Ingles back to Utah with a tribute video. Ingles’ wife Renae was sitting courtside, and couldn’t help but shed some tears during the tribute.

“Watching it brings back a lot of good memories and eight years of pretty good times — great, great times,” Ingles said after the game. “I saw Renae and Renae lost it. … It was nice to have that and obviously coming back to see a lot of familiar faces and some good people and have Renae here and some other friends and family come down that still live here. So yeah pretty, pretty cool.”