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The value of a long NBA road trip

Yes, six games spread out over 13 days is a grind, but there are good things that can come of it, too

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Utah’s Lauri Markkanen dribble past Oklahoma City guard Luguentz Dort during game, March, 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City.

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen tries to dribble past Oklahoma City guard Luguentz Dort during game Friday, March, 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City. The game marked the first of six road games for the Jazz.

Nate Billings, Associated Press

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The Utah Jazz are currently on their longest road trip of the season — six games in five cities across 13 days away from home.

Though the grind of travel and living out of a suitcase can wear on the body and mind, there are definitely some benefits to spending an extended amount of time on the road.

“My kids get up very early,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said just before the first game of the trip. “So a positive would be that this morning, although I love them and I do miss them very much, they were not at the side of my bed at a time that started with ‘five.’”

Hardy was only kind of joking. Being on the road can actually be a bit of a reprieve for players and coaches who have children and families and other responsibilities — things that can distract them back home.

Being at home also adds a certain level of comfort and familiarity, but the team also splits off into their own individual worlds. On the road, they are kind of forced to be around each other for meals and outings and all the travel, and it creates some bonding that doesn’t always happen at home.

Also, as Lauri Markkanen put it, the road makes you rely on your teammates more.

“I like playing on the road,” he said. “It’s just us out there and we’re not gonna get any boost from the crowd or anything like that.”

The Jazz started out their trip with two games in Oklahoma City on Friday and Sunday. They’ll play in Dallas on Tuesday, Orlando on Thursday, Charlotte on Saturday and Miami on Monday.

After they finish off the games, the Jazz are staying in Miami after their game against the Heat rather than flying straight home, allowing them a night to unwind in South Beach.

By the time the Jazz get home after the trip there will only be 13 games left in the 2022-23 NBA season.

New with the Jazz

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew eulogizes Russell Westbrook’s career, talks about all of the Ja Morant nonsense and then gets into the latest Jazz news — Walker Kessler is Rookie of the Month, Kris Dunn gets another 10-day deal and the rest of this season is not going to be pretty.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

Stat of the week

Utah Jazz rookie Walker Kessler was named Rookie of the Month for the Western Conference for games played in February. Kessler averaged 10.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game while being the only rookie to average a double-double over the last month.

From the archives

Extra points

  • A deeper look at Simone Fontecchio, Johnny Juzang and Kris Dunn (Deseret News)
  • What it means for the Jazz as AT&T SportsNet prepares to shut down (KSL.com)
  • Quin Snyder said front office character part of decision to join Hawks (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

Ja Morant to miss at least two games after incident with gun.

The Warriors finally have Stephen Curry back in the lineup.

LeBron James to miss at least 3 weeks with foot injury.

Up next

March 7 | 6:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Dallas Mavericks | AT&T SportsNet

March 9 | 5 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Orlando Magic | AT&T SportsNet

March 11 | 5 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Charlotte Hornets | AT&T SportsNet

March 13 | 5:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Miami Heat | AT&T SportsNet

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Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy, left, talks to forward Juan Toscano-Anderson during game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, March, 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City. The Jazz are in the midst of a grueling six-game road trip, but according to Hardy there is one small silver lining.

Nate Billings, Associated Press