The Utah Jazz lost to the Sacramento Kings, 121-113, on Saturday night.
There have been quite a few times this season when the Jazz have lost a game but it hasn’t felt bad. I’m not really an advocate of moral victories in the NBA when it comes to legitimate contending teams, but for a team like the Jazz — a rebuilding team where wins aren’t really the most important thing — it feels like there is a real need to find silver linings and to look at things as glass-half-full, when warranted.
So, when the Jazz are playing the Sacramento Kings, who are already looking for revenge after losing in Utah on Monday, and the Jazz are playing without their three top scorers and another rotational player, and they force the Kings to fight all the way down to the final moments, that feels like a time where you can find some bright spots within the darkness of a loss.
Not only are these good learning moments for the Jazz’s younger players, which can give them some film to watch with a lot of positive takeaways, but it’s also got to be a really nice change of pace for Jazz fans.
So often this year I find myself comparing the mood and vibe and feelings of the team to that of last year’s team. I know that this is a completely different situation, but it’s impossible not to think about not only the losses that felt bad last season, but some of the wins too. There never seemed to be a bright spot on the horizon.
But this season, you look out to the horizon and the light is blinding. There’s so much to look forward to and that’s where the moral victories come into play. You don’t have to win a game to see the progress and the potential, and that’s enough right now.
Walker Kessler’s career night
It’s hard to find things to say about Kessler that haven’t been said already this season. And yet… he still finds ways to up the ante and impress even more than he already has.
Kessler scored a career-high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal and he did it on 14-of-16 shooting from the field.
It was his 19th double-double of the season and the 28th time this season he has finished with a field goal percentage of 80% or better.
What stood out to me on Saturday was that Kessler wasn’t just getting points off lobs and putbacks (although he had his fair share of those), but we also saw him open up his offensive game a little.
The stronger he gets and the more time he has played against NBA defenders is going to make him even better. The future is bright.
Jarrell Brantley’s opportunity
On a 10-day contract, Jarrell Brantley finally got an extended run with the Jazz on Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Although he played the entirety of the fourth quarter, it was all garbage time in a game where the Jazz had already trailed by as many as 33 points. But Brantley showed some good stuff in that fourth-quarter stint and it earned him a bigger role in Saturday’s game.
In 15 minutes off the bench Brantley shot 62.5% overall, including hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point land, while also contributing two rebounds, an assist and a block.
Brantley is coming off an incredible season playing in Australia’s NBL where he shot 40% from deep and averaged 16.4 points and five rebounds per game. It’s clear that he has gotten better and it’s good to see him at least having the chance to audition once again for a chance in the NBA.