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'You're not tired': Will Hardy challenges stars to help Jazz snap losing skid


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SALT LAKE CITY โ€” Collin Sexton felt his legs getting heavy.

So when the Jazz point guard came to the bench midway through the fourth quarter, he asked for a breather. It wasn't an unreasonable ask by any means. At that point, he had played all but two minutes of the second half and he knew he was going to have to close the game, too.

But, in no uncertain terms, coach Will Hardy denied his request.

"He was like, 'You're not tired, you're not tired. I'm just gonna walk away so you better catch your breath,'" said Sexton, recalling the moment.

That may have been the cleaned-up version of events; Hardy admitted what he really said wasn't fit to print. Still, Sexton took a couple deep breaths, rehydrated and soon picked up the Clippers full court.

This much was clear on Wednesday: Hardy wanted a win bad.

Ahead of Wednesday's game against the wounded LA Clippers, the Utah Jazz coach said he didn't think it was any more difficult to end a losing streak than it was to win any other game.

His actions in the second half said otherwise.

Hardy played the final two quarters with just a seven-man rotation; a move often reserved for the playoffs โ€” if at all.

And it worked.

The Jazz topped the Clippers 125-112 Wednesday night at Vivint Arena to snap a five-game losing streak and to stay above .500. The Jazz improved to 13-11 on the season.

"We were trying to win, and I thought those guys had good mojo tonight," Hardy said. "Just a feel thing; nobody necessarily did anything wrong or terrible. It was just that I thought that group was playing very well. I thought it was really important that we come out of tonight with a win."

His players had the same mindset.

Jordan Clarkson picked up his fourth foul at the 8:54 mark in the fourth quarter, and it was assumed he would head to the bench. Malik Beasley even got up to head to the scorers table, but Clarkson called him off.

He promised Hardy he wouldn't pick up another foul if he left him in the game. So Hardy rolled the dice.

"Generally, we have a lot of trust in our guys," Hardy said. "Because of the way Jordan was playing, and he was really in a good flow of the game, I decided to roll with him."

And roll. And roll. And roll.

Clarkson didn't check out of the game until there was less than two minutes left to play โ€” and a victory was in hand.

Hardy trusted Clarkson to play through foul trouble, and trusted the rest of his key guys to play without much rest.

That trust paid off.

The Jazz went on a 22-6 run in the third quarter and were able to hold off each Clippers rally that came late in a game where LA was without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Norman Powell.

Clarkson finished with 33 points, five assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes, which led to a superb offensive attack. The Jazz shot 55% from the field and 44% from the 3-point line.

"I just thought we was on a good pace in the game, just wanted to kind of create some separation at that time and appreciate him trusting me," Clarkson said.

Clarkson played 22 minutes in the second half, Sexton played 20, and both Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk topped 18.

When asked if he was expecting to play 40 minutes on Wednesday, Clarkson chuckled and said, "No, but if I gotta do it, I'll do it. I still got young legs."

Hardy told the team to use timeouts wisely โ€” rest, drink water, and get ready to go back out there. He specifically told Clarkson, "You're not coming out; that's just the way it is. I don't want to hear you're tired."

It was a coach asking his players to dig deep in order to get back on track, and they responded.

Markkanen finished with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds; Sexton had 21 points, six assists and six rebounds; and Jarred Vanderbilt scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, and also grabbed 12 rebounds.

"We had a good rhythm," Olynyk said. "When that happens, sometimes you gotta let it roll"

That's just what Hardy did on Wednesday.

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