SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Lauri Markkanen had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Utah Jazz to a 139-119 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Rookie center Walker Kessler scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds for Utah. Jordan Clarkson had 19 points and Collin Sexton added 18 as the Jazz shot 55% from the field and matched a season high for points.
Utah never trailed over the final three quarters and led by double digits throughout the second half.
”I thought our guys maintained their aggressiveness,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. ”Our pace didn’t slow down.”
Myles Turner scored 18 points to lead Indiana. Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Smith added 14 apiece, but the Pacers lost for the third time in four games on their road trip.
”We’re not playing with the right intentions and we’re not moving the ball,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”The things that have gotten us to the point where we’ve been a surprise team and second in the league in passes – those things failed us tonight.”
Utah used efficient offense and stingy defense to take control before halftime. The Jazz shot 63% from the floor in the first half and made nine 3-pointers. They held the Pacers without a basket for three minutes in the first quarter to build a 35-21 lead.
Indiana erased the deficit in the second, tying it on Smith’s layup, but Utah didn’t let the Pacers go in front. Jarred Vanderbilt and Clarkson scored three baskets apiece to fuel a 17-0 run that put the Jazz up 71-54 shortly before halftime.
”We needed that spurt before heading back into the locker room,” Markkanen said.
The Pacers cut the deficit to 81-71 on Bennedict Mathurin’s layup midway through the third quarter. Utah pulled away again, going up 101-79 on three straight baskets from Markkanen, Kessler and Talen Horton-Tucker.
”We just played into their hands,” Turner said. ”I think they want you to try to take that first available shot as opposed to get your second or third action. I think we let them off the hook quite a bit.”
Utah and Indiana combined for 63 fouls and 70 free throw attempts. The Pacers were whistled for 35 personal fouls while the Jazz tallied 28. A tight whistle disrupted the flow of the game at times during the second half.
The Jazz focused on making subtle changes where needed while staying aggressive with their on-the-ball defense.
”It’s definitely tough, but at the end of the day we know what’s going to help you,” Sexton said. ”You’ve got to adjust.”
Pacers: Andrew Nembhard had a career-high 10 assists to go with 13 points. . Indiana forced 24 turnovers.
Jazz: Kelly Olynyk fouled out in only 22 minutes, the fourth time he’s fouled out this season. . Utah scored a season-high 40 points in the second quarter.
Pacers: Visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
Jazz: Host the Trail Blazers on Saturday.
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