Early this young season, the Utah Jazz have faced some potential contenders, giving both a battle. They faced another contender in the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday, but there was not much fight as the Nets coasted to an easy 104-88 victory.
Starters set the tone: The Brooklyn Nets feature a starting five comprised of veterans with a combined 58 years of experience. Each is a former All-Star. Collectively, they have won championships and Olympic gold while earning many All-NBA and All-Defensive honors. Conversely, the Utah Jazz’s starters are relatively inexperienced. It definitely showed Tuesday evening as Brooklyn’s vets gave their counterparts all they could handle.
The Nets starters set the tone early on, building up a comfortable lead. Their aggressive, heady play and teamwork on both ends of the court were more than Utah could handle. Center Brook Lopez was simply dominant, tallying 27 points and eight rebounds. The Jazz threw different defenders at him, to no avail.
Because of their strong play, Brooklyn’s starters enjoyed relatively light outings. None played more than 25 minutes. Four of them sported +/- marks of +21 or better.
Triumphant return: Swingman Brandon Rush made his return to an NBA court Tuesday, almost exactly one year to the day he suffered a horrific ACL injury. While his playing time was carefully monitored versus the Nets, his Utah Jazz debut was triumphant the moment he entered the game. He did not attempt a shot in his 10 minutes, but his return gives Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin a much-needed outside shooter and defender who can bolster an injury-ridden rotation.
More offensive woes: Utah’s struggles on offense continued as the Jazz were stymied by Brooklyn’s cagey defense. For the second time in three outings, the Jazz shot less than 40 percent from the floor — 37.8 percent. While Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward joined forces to shoot, their teammates managed to hit just 14 of 54 shots for 25.9 percent.
Turnovers continue to be a concern as Utah had 20 miscues compared to 17 assists.
This and that:
• Former Utah mainstays Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko were reunited this offseason as Kirilenko signed a modest contract for the chance to compete for a championship. Both have had some nagging injuries, but the duo looked solid against the Jazz. Williams had 10 points and eight assists, while Kirilenko chipped in six points and five rebounds.
• Rookie center Rudy Gobert had his best outing thus far, collecting 11 rebounds in 16 minutes before he fouled out in the fourth quarter.
• All 13 Nets players played at least 11 minutes.
• Utah’s point guard tandem of Jamaal Tinsley and John Lucas III each were just one of five from three-point range. They had a combined three assists and four turnovers in 45 minutes.
• In the first half, the Jazz bench put only six points on the board, shooting one of eight from the floor.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops and Utah Jazz 360. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.