Jazz: Will Hardy explains the key to Ochai Agbaji’s career performance

Ochai Agbaji erupted for a career performance on Monday to lead the Utah Jazz to a win over the Sacramento Kings and maintain ground in the play-in race.

Agbaji produced 27 points, five rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot in the 128-120 victory at home. He went 8-of-14 from the field, including a career-high six 3-pointers, in 33 minutes of work as the Jazz improved to 35-36 on the season.

The 14th pick became one of four rookies this season to hit at least six 3s in a game. Perhaps none was bigger than the triple he hit with 2:41 left to play to give the Jazz the lead for good.

Jazz coach Will Hardy explained what led to his career night.

We’re continuing to see his game start to expand a little bit. The shots he is looking for, the shots he is taking. Obviously, it feels better when they go in but I will continue to say that I would feel the same way about Ochai if he had missed a lot of those shots because he is finding and seeing different shots that he wasn’t a month ago.

Agbaji surpassed his previous season high of 19 points with the performance on Monday. He produced 16 points alone in the second half as the Jazz held on to close out the Kings after building an early 25-point lead in the second quarter.

He wanted to make his presence felt on both ends of the court.

“Just bringing that activity, offensively and defensively,” Agbaji told Holly Rowe of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. “My teammates kept me confident throughout it all and I’m thankful for that.”

With the win, the Jazz jumped up to 10th to claim the last play-in spot in the Western Conference. They are among seven teams seeded 6-12 separated by two just games in the standings. With 11 games to go, each game will prove important as teams make their final postseason push.

The Jazz return to action on Wednesday with Portland.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire