SAN ANTONIO — The Utah Jazz finally put a stop to their losing streak on Wednesday night with a 128-117 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The four-game skid was snapped behind a wild 41-point, career-high night from Talen Horton-Tucker leading the way for a shorthanded Jazz team.
Horton-Tucker really put the Jazz on his back and carried them to a win. I mean, 41 points is a lot no matter the circumstances, but Horton-Tucker also maintained efficiency, going 15 of 25 overall and 6 of 11 from 3-point range.
We’ve seen this before on nights when the Jazz have been shorthanded. When given the room to operate on a long leash, Horton-Tucker can definitely find ways to score, and once he saw a few go in, he was feeling it on Wednesday and just kept letting it fly.
Why not, right?
This Jazz team doesn’t have many more games that look like guaranteed wins, so it was a good night for him to go out and make some noise. He had quite a few good looks, some wild ones that went in and used his strength moving downhill to his advantage for the most part.
On a night when the Jazz were missing three starters and were sick of losing, Horton-Tucker gave them a win, and he deserves his flowers.
Luka Samanic’s first Jazz minutes
A first-round pick that fizzled out for the Spurs, Samanic has been in the G League trying to make his way back to the NBA, and the Jazz brought him in on a 10-day deal to take a quick look at him before the season ends.
Samanic went 2 of 8 against his former team, but as Jazz head coach Will Hardy said, it didn’t feel like it because he was really active and made an impact.
“I thought he played a hell of a game for being a guy that when you look at a box score and he’s 2 of 8, like it didn’t feel that way. It really felt like he kind of fit right into how we’re trying to play,” Hardy said.
“For a first game with a team — he’s done one shootaround with us, doesn’t necessarily know we’re all saying all the time in terms of our terminology and he’s got to play his first game here in San Antonio, which is where he was and got waived — there’s a lot of emotions for him tonight and I thought he handled himself great and I thought he played well.”
Samanic finished with nine rebounds and four assists to go with his nine points.
I wrote about this in the three keys article that goes out at the final buzzer of the game, but I think it bears repeating: Every Jazz player that was available to play on Wednesday night not only played, but got points in the box score.
Kris Dunn had a great night with 17 off the bench, Udoka Azubuike chipped in 12, rookies Ochai Agbaji and Johnny Juzang each added 10 to the total and everyone else had an opportunity.
When the team is struggling with morale, watching the standings and seeing that it continues to get more difficult for them to get into a play-in spot, having a night when everyone eats can really be helpful.
The Jazz are tired and for a lot of these young players, they’ve never played this much basketball in their lives and the end is really close. Yeah, they beat one of the basement-dwelling teams in the league, but every player can say that they helped get the win and they did it without their full roster available.
“It was a good bounce back win for us,” Hardy said. “I think our guys have been playing really hard lately and they’ve stayed committed to what we’re doing.
“They’ve done it as a group, and it’s good for them to see the reward of that by getting a win.”