Utah Jazz net blowout victory a day after longest game in team history
NEWARK, N.J. — They looked lackadaisical, unenergetic, frustrated and struggled mightily to score and defend.
Just what you'd expect from a team that played in a quadruple-overtime game 800-some-odd miles away 24 hours before, right?
Probably, but those descriptions about a team from Monday night's game at the Prudential Center weren't about the Utah Jazz.
For the most part, that described the Nets, who, despite having Deron Williams, often look like a gassed team playing on an empty tank.
And his old team?
Throw out a sluggish start and a rough patch in the third quarter, and the Jazz looked lively, hungry, determined and, according to Williams, very much like a postseason-bound team while roughing up his Nets in a 105-84 blowout.
"They closed us out. They are a good team. They are a playoff team," Williams said. "They did a good job of getting refocused and blowing it open."
Williams was talking about how Utah refocused to end this game after the Jazz's 22-point lead early in the second half was whittled down to three early in the fourth quarter.
But the same sentiment fit when it came to how Utah dug deep, recharged its battery and bounced back after losing the longest game in franchise history several states away the previous night.
"Just to come out and get the win here tonight after a tough loss last night and traveling over here shows again what these guys are all about," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
Both teams were sluggish in a low-scoring first quarter, but the Jazz picked up the pace in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 49-32 lead.
"They were on their heels," a disappointed Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "They were very lethargic in the game and we just didn't take advantage of it."
The credit for that goes to the Jazz, who turned their attention to this game immediately after duking it out with Atlanta for 68 minutes of basketball before finally getting tripped up on Sunday night.
In the middle of a playoff race, the Jazz, now 27-23 and in the No. 7 spot out West, knew how important a win against a sub-par team like the Nets (16-35) would be to keep them in a postseason position.
Sure, they fretted and relived upsetting woulda/coulda moments from the OOOOT game, but they got their rest after getting to their New Jersey hotel at about 1:45 a.m. Monday. They got treatments, did pregame Xs and Os, took care to refuel themselves properly and re-energized their bodies as much as possible.
During stretches in the pivotal second and fourth quarters, you would've never guessed what the Jazz had just been through.
"I felt like we were already fresh. You know, we felt good," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said. "You know, my body felt good. Al, everybody who was in there jumped in and showed energy. Our team really wasn't too tired tonight."
Interestingly — but not surprisingly, really — Millsap and Jefferson carried the scoring load again for the Jazz after playing 50-plus minutes vs. the Hawks.
Millsap scored 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Jefferson added 19 points and eight boards.
"I got great sleep last night. I felt like I had a lot of energy, and we don't make any excuses," said Jefferson, who repeated multiple times how he wanted to emulate the Hawks in the way they gutted out a tough win after playing a back-to-back-to-back.
"It was a good game (Sunday), but we fell short and we had to look forward to (Monday)."
Their enthusiasm and continued motivation to push toward the playoffs was evident, and from multiple players.
Devin Harris, a night after playing for 54 minutes, held his own against D-Will. In his first game back in New Jersey since being part of the deal for the three-time All-Star, Harris dished out a season-high 11 assists and scored nine points (to Williams' 17 points on 7-for-21 shooting and 11 dishes).
Alec Burks came in quicker than anyone expected — along with Derrick Favors and, surprise, Earl Watson — just over four minutes into the game and finished with a sparkplug 15 points.
C.J. Miles also had 10 points in 21 minutes (28 fewer than Sunday), and Gordon Hayward chipped in seven points after logging an incredible 57 minutes in Atlanta.
Corbin also gave guys on the bench, including DeMarre Carrol (seven points) and Watson, plenty of time to help keep the squad as active as possible.
"We (knew) we were going to need everybody," Corbin said. "Everybody had to be ready to go because we needed all of our bodies tonight."
Jefferson, Millsap and Harris each scored early in the fourth quarter as the Jazz went on a 7-0 run to give them space after the Nets pulled within three.
From there, the lead ballooned to 23 when Jeremy Evans soared to catch a Watson pass and slammed down a punctuating alley-oop.
"Our team played with a chip on their shoulder," Millsap added. "And they didn't let all the hype get to them, and they came out and played a great game."
GAME NOTES: Favors finished with just four points and five rebounds in his first game back in New Jersey since being traded to Utah. ... Hayward's 57-minute performance tied Karl Malone for the most-ever logged in a game by a Jazz player. … Monday was Hall of Fame guard John Stockton's 50th birthday.
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