GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Warriors-Jazz postponed following medical emergency

Jan 17, 2024, 9:36 AM | Updated: 10:15 am

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz scores on an alley-oop pass over Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the G...

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 28: Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz scores on an alley-oop pass over Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Chase Center on December 28, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

While the Golden State Warriors are hoping Draymond Green’s return will help spark them back to their usual competitive selves, the Utah Jazz are in a groove thanks in large part to their biggest spark plug.

All-Star Lauri Markkanen, who earned NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors for Jan. 8-14, and the red-hot Jazz were scheduled to meet the Warriors for the first time this season on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

However, the NBA has postponed the game following a medical emergency suffered Tuesday night by Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojevic, who is hospitalized in Salt Lake City. A makeup date will be announced later.

The Warriors said Milojevic, 46, was stricken during a private team dinner. Reports from his native Serbia said it was a cardiac-related matter.

Markkanen scored 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds on Monday night, lifting Utah to a 132-105 win over the Indiana Pacers, the sixth straight victory for the Jazz. Collin Sexton, who has also been on a tear, scored a season-high 30 points.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle gave Markkanen a big compliment, comparing him to NBA Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.

“He’s the closest thing that I’ve seen to Nowitzki,” Carlisle said, “just in terms of a 7-footer that can really stretch the game out and play inside.”

Markkanen, recently named Finland’s 2023 Athlete of the Year, will see Nowitzki comparisons keep coming if he continues to play like he has been. He has scored more than 30 points three times in 2024.

“He’s playing really, really physically when he has the ball,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said of Markkanen. “We’ve had a couple of games where he’s been able to play against the switch and use his physicality and size against smaller players.”

Markkanen, who made his first NBA All-Star team a season ago, is averaging 24.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 2023-24. He is shooting 49.7 percent overall and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

“I don’t think it’s easy to live up to that (Nowitzki comparison),” Markkanen said. “But I think there are similar similarities. Still, a long way to go. So it’s nice for (Carlisle) to say and it gives me more motivation to get better.”

Sexton has been another big factor during the Jazz’s surge, which has seen Utah win 12 of 14. After starting the season 4-11 and eventually falling nine games below .500 (7-16), the Jazz now sit at 22-20.

Sexton’s increased impact has mirrored Utah’s rise. He has scored 19 or more points in six consecutive games, and the Jazz are now 15-4 with him in the starting lineup.

“I’ve been counted out before,” Sexton said. “I’ve been put down, so I feel like right now this is my time to show.”

Wednesday was supposed to be the second game back for Green, whose indefinite suspension was lifted by the NBA prior to Monday’s game in Memphis.

Green scored seven points, collected seven rebounds and dished out four assists in the Warriors’ 116-107 loss.

Stephen Curry had 26 points and eight assists, while Jonathan Kuminga added 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was fun being back on the court,” Green said. “Getting the chance to play basketball, that’s always fun. It was a little weird going out of the tunnel to go shoot and do my pregame, but after that it just settled down.”

Green played 24 minutes in his first action since hitting Phoenix’s Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December and being ejected for the third time this season. The NBA held him out for 16 games because of the continued unsportsmanlike acts.

“I think (the minutes) will go up pretty fast,” Green said. “But until it does, I will try to be the best I can be in the minutes I have and bring a spark to this team.”

–Field Level Media

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