Markkanen and Sexton lead streaking Jazz past banged-up Pacers 132-105 for 6th straight win

Bennedict Mathurin
Walker Kessler
Posted at 7:27 AM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 07:27:04-05

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Lauri Markkanen had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Collin Sexton scored a season-high 30 and the Utah Jazz routed the Indiana Pacers 132-105 on Monday night for their sixth straight victory.
Before the game, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle compared Markkanen to Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki.

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

That was just the latest in a string of recent accolades for the Jazz forward, who then showed his versatility on the court against the Pacers (23-17).

Last week, Markkanen was named Finland’s 2023 Athlete of the Year, and he was selected Western Conference Player of the Week by the NBA for Jan. 8-14.

Markkanen has scored 30 points or more three times in January and shot at least 10 free throws in three of his last four games. He was 10 for 10 from the line Monday night.

Keyonte George had 19 points and Jordan Clarkson added 17 for the Jazz, who shot 55.6%. They led wire-to-wire for just the second time this season — the other one was Nov. 1.

The Jazz (22-20) have won nine straight at home by an average of 16.8 points.

Buddy Hield scored 14 points, but just two after the first quarter, and Andrew Nembhard also had 14 for Indiana.

The Pacers played their fourth game without team leader Tyrese Haliburton (left hamstring). Indiana was also missing Aaron Nesmith (shin) and Bruce Brown (knee), who had a big game in a 117-109 loss at Denver on Sunday.

Simone Fontecchio capped a 25-8 run that spanned the second and third quarters and made it 76-53 with 9:26 left in the third. Playing back-to-back and missing several critical pieces, the Pacers couldn’t muster a substantial comeback.

Sexton doesn’t usually log a lot of minutes — just 24 in this one — but is averaging nearly 29 points per 36 minutes in the last month, the sixth-best rate in the NBA.

Sexton has scored at least 19 points in six straight games. Since he moved into the starting lineup, the Jazz are 15-3.

Two games after posting a franchise record for field goal percentage (67.1) in Friday’s 126-108 win over Atlanta, the Pacers shot 40% from the field.