Markkanen, Conley power Jazz to 131-128 win over Raptors

Lauri Markkanen had 28 points and 13 rebounds and Mike Conley added a three-point play and two clutch free throws in the closing minutes to lift the Utah Jazz to a 131-128 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

“Taking my time, having a little more patience, not just going right away and being a little bit stronger with the ball,” said Markkanen of finishing strong versus the physical Raptors after a slow start.

Toronto’s Fred VanVleet had his second career triple-double with 34 points, a career-best 12 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Jazz overcame that effort by shooting 53% and making key play after key play down the stretch.

Conley, who had 19 points and eight assists, drew Pascal Siakam’s sixth foul on a head fake and completed a three-point play to give the Jazz a 120-113 lead with 2:13 left.

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“(Siakam) reached in but I was able to finish it. Really was the best of both worlds there. It was a big play and I think it got us going enough able to finish the game,” Conley said.

VanVleet kept the Raptors close with his 3-point shooting, but Toronto couldn’t complete the comeback effort.

“If we’re up three at the end of the night, then a lot of these stats look a lot better. We’d be celebrating … just got to find ways to win and that’s really all that matters,” VanVleet said.

Conley hit two free throws with 12.2 seconds left to seal the win and the Jazz moved above .500 at 27-26.

“Mike has been such a steadying force for us late in games. He and I have developed a very good communication about what we would like to do and he does a good job communicating that to the team and getting them organized. His decision-making continues to be great late in games,” Utah coach Will Hardy stated.

Jordan Clarkson scored seven of his 23 points in the final 1:39 and Walker Kessler added 17 points, 14 rebounds and matched a career best with seven blocked shots for Utah, which has won five of its last seven matches.

“(Kessler) got seven blocks tonight and I don’t know how many more he affected. Guys just stopped going in on him at some point,” Markkanen said.

Siakam scored 21 before fouling out, Gary Trent Jr. had 20 points and the Raptors stayed in the game with a season-high with 25 offensive rebounds.

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