Jazz’s Will Hardy Gets Honest About Isaiah Hartenstein

Will Hardy, Jazz, NBA
Jan 30, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy coaches against the New York Knicks during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz were the last team in the NBA to run into the buzzsaw known as the New York Knicks. The Jazz went into Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night on the second night of a back-to-back and were blown out.

It was a truly dominant performance from New York, especially on the defensive end. The previous night, against the Brooklyn Nets, was the first time in 11 games they had failed to score 120+ points, scoring “only” 114. The Knicks blew that out of the water, limiting Utah to only 103 in a 15-point loss.

The Jazz struggled to find much momentum offensively. After opening a nine-point lead early in the game, New York took over and handled business the rest of the way. A big reason for the Knicks finding success was that they were able to make life difficult for Lauri Markkanen.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Isaiah Hartenstein, Will Hardy, New York Knicks Utah Jazz Updates

In the first matchup of the season, a four-point Jazz victory, Markkanen went for 23 points in his return from an eight-game absence. He shot 7-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point range. On Tuesday, he was only 5-of-14 overall and 2-of-8 from 3-point range, scoring 14 points.

It was certainly a surprise to see Markkanen struggle as the Knicks were without their starting forwards OG Anunoby and Julius Randle. That put Josh Hart and Precious Achiwua into the starting five and were matched up were Markkanen throughout the night.

Another player who drew the Markkanen assignment regularly was Isaiah Hartenstein. Working his way back from an Achilles injury, Markkanen had his minutes restriction lifted against Utah and he made his presence felt.

After the game, Jazz head coach Will Hardy spoke glowingly of the impact Hartenstein was having on the court. No matter what his team tried running, Hartenstein was seemingly there to throw a wrench in their plans.

“I don’t live in this media market, I don’t know how much he’s talked about––but watching him on film, his value’s unbelievable.

“The guy’s everywhere. Even the ones he doesn’t get, he’s occupying so many people on the glass. He’s relentless.

“You have to match that on every. single. possession. And the one time you slip up, he taps it back out or he gets the rebound.”

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Isaiah Hartenstein, Will Hardy, New York Knicks Utah Jazz Updates

Hartenstein had a solid game against the Jazz, scoring 14 points with 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in just under 30 minutes of play. He has been incredible for the Knicks since Mitchell Robinson went down with an injury, proving that he is a starting-caliber player in the NBA.

Markkanen isn’t the first player in the NBA to struggle against Hartenstein and the stifling Knicks defense and they certainly won’t be the last. While some people believe New York is lacking a superstar, this is a group that has meshed together incredibly well and is clicking on all cylinders regardless of who is in the lineup.

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