Jazz Notes: Horton-Tucker, Sexton, Olynyk, Play-In Tournament

Talen Horton-Tucker didn’t get off the Jazz bench Tuesday night despite being available to play after missing two games with a sore left foot, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Coach Will Hardy explained it was because other guards have been playing well during the team’s three-game winning streak, but Todd believes Horton-Tucker is in danger of being dropped from the rotation.

“There’s only so many people that can play in the game,” Hardy said.Kris (Dunn) and Collin (Sexton) have been in a good groove. Talen has played well. It’s nothing that he’s done wrong, but he is coming off an injury and we had won two games in a row. It didn’t feel right to the team to disrupt that rhythm. I think it would have been the same if it had been somebody else.”

Todd points out that the same standard didn’t apply to rookie Keyonte George, who logged 24 minutes Tuesday after missing six games with a foot injury. Horton-Tucker began the season as a starter in Utah’s backcourt, but George took over that role in the team’s eighth game and held it until his injury.

At that time, it was Dunn who was out of the rotation, Todd adds, but he and Sexton have been meshing well together recently, so Hardy is relying on what has been working. With an $11MM expiring contract, Horton-Tucker may not be part of the team’s future unless something changes.

There’s more from Utah:

  • Sexton has been working with assistant coaches to dissect the pick-and-roll so he can become more of a play-maker, Todd states in a separate story. As he expands his options, Sexton has raised his assists to 3.6 per game after averaging 2.9 last season. “He’s just sort of in a groove right now,” Hardy said. “I think the best thing for me is that he’s had a couple of games where he’s made a lot of good decisions and he’s still scored a lot of points and I think it’s just showing him that though he has a scoring mindset, you don’t have to think ‘score’ on every play to score a lot of points in this league.”
  • Replacing Walker Kessler with Kelly Olynyk in the starting lineup has helped unclog the team’s offense, observes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Although Kessler remains one of the league’s best shot blockers in his second season, he doesn’t put enough pressure on opposing defenses. Jones notes that Hardy can run a five-out approach with Olynyk, which creates room for Sexton and Lauri Markkanen to attack the basket.
  • The Jazz are focused on overcoming their slow start to reach the play-in tournament, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The recent hot streak has moved Utah to within two-and-a-half games of 10th place. “You’ve got to just keep building,” Olynyk said. What’s happened in the past happened; now you gotta learn from it, grow, keep building, and not let the past dictate the future.”
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