Jazz: Walker Kessler has the most games in the NBA with 7 blocks
Walker Kessler had several clutch plays late and stuffed the stat sheet on Thursday to help lead the Utah Jazz to an overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kessler produced seven points, 18 rebounds, seven blocked shots and two assists in 37 minutes of work in the 120-119 victory. He even hit his first 3-pointer of the season, which came on a designed play by head coach Will Hardy to start the game.
With the Jazz down by two points, and 4.6 seconds left, Kessler cleaned up a missed layup by Kelly Olynyk to tie the game up at 106 points apiece. On the other end, Kessler blocked a layup attempt by Isaiah Joe as time expired to force overtime.
Hardy was impressed with his recovery to make the play.
“His length, timing and athleticism continue to stand out,” Hardy said. “That block on Isaiah Joe at the end of regulation was a huge play. There are not many guys that can make that play. Walker does a ton for us. I am on him endlessly and then I come back into the locker room and look at the stat sheet and he had 18 rebounds and seven blocks.”
Walker Kessler sends Jazz-Thunder to OT with this CLUTCH block 🤯
Watch: https://t.co/0rrSPxOHD0 pic.twitter.com/xPQAvAFYYS
— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2023
The performance further illustrated his defensive impact this season.
Kessler now has three games with at least seven blocks, the most by any player in the league. He now has 124 blocks on the season, which ranks fourth among all players, just 15 behind Brook Lopez’s league-leading mark of 139.
He has proven to be a real rim protector in only his first year in the league with his ability to block and alter other shots in the paint. His size and instincts have been key reasons why he has been so successful in the early going.
Hardy believes Kessler is just scratching the surface.
I just think he has so much to give. I think that is the really fun part about where Walker is in his career is that he has the ability to have nights like tonight where he has 18 rebounds and seven blocks. Our staff and I — even Walker if you ask him — think he can get so much better. … I think Walker has the potential to be somebody that you build a defense around. He has shown really great progress this year.
Kessler is emerging as one of the most productive rookies this season with the Jazz. He seemingly plays his role well each night and makes plays when needed. He does a lot of things that may not show up on the box score and that is proving to be valuable for the team.
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