Jazz storm to much-needed win in Brooklyn, escape from New York for home
Julie Jacobson, AP
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — While the East Coast prepped for a blizzard named Jonas to hammer the area, Winter Storm Jazz inflicted some serious damage at Barclays Center.
In a game they desperately needed, the Jazz pounded the Nets 108-86 to wrap up a shortened road trip at Barclays Center.
Originally scheduled to play the second end of a back-to-back on Saturday in Washington, the Jazz instead hustled out of Brooklyn after this blowout. They were in a rush to catch a flight back to Utah on Friday night in hopes of beating the storm that forced the game against the Wizards to be postponed by the NBA.
Not surprisingly, the Jazz were in a much better mood in the locker room on Friday night than they had been at Madison Square Garden and in Charlotte earlier in the week after consecutive overtime losses.
“It was good for us to finally get a win like this, especially with the emotional losses that we’ve had, some injuries and stuff,” Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward said. “It was good for us to get a win, good for our confidence.”
Things started ominously for the Jazz, who fell behind early by 11 points to a Brooklyn team that had lost nine of 10 games coming into this one.
The fact that 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert missed an alley-oop dunk and a layup illustrated the Jazz’s woes to begin the game.
But Utah settled down and pulled within one by the end of the first quarter and then took an eight-point lead into the locker room at the half.
“We didn’t start well today, but I thought we were solid,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “The effort and the attention and the focus has been there. I think if we continue to do that, that’s all we can ask and let the games take care of themselves.”
Things definitely took care of themselves for the Jazz in the third quarter.
“We were really good defensively,” Hayward said. “We didn’t let them start like we did in the first quarter. Because of that, we were making the extra pass. We didn’t have to attack a set defense. We were getting good looks. When you get good looks, more often than not you’re going to knock them down.”
They certainly did that.
In that pivotal third quarter, Utah hit 16 of 22 shots and outscored the Nets 37-17 to blow the game open.
“We defended. That’s the biggest thing. When we defend and get out in transition, we’re hard to guard, we’re hard to play against,” Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood said. “When we rack up stops like we do, we’re a really good team. I think that’s the recipe. It’s just about doing it for 48 minutes.”
Utah went up by as many as 31 points on a night when almost everybody had some fun.
Hayward made several terrific moves on sweet drives, Gobert had a dunk-a-thon after his initial misses, Trevor Booker racked up a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), Hood had another solid offensive outing (16 points) and seven different Jazzmen scored in double figures.
Hayward led the scoring charge with 21 points and was especially impressive with nine assists. The Stifle Tower had the defensive play of the game when he stuffed Willie Reed so hard on one of his three blocked shots that the Nets player hit the court on his backside.
“I thought we moved the ball really well,” Hayward said. “There were multiple guys in double figures. I think it’s fun when you play like that. Guys are getting easy shots, dunks, threes. I thought we played well.”
The Jazz, who shot a blistering 57.3 percent to the Nets’ 44 percent, improved to 19-24. Brooklyn, which recently fired head coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned GM Billy King, dropped to 11-33.
This was only Utah’s second win outside of Vivint Arena since the end of November. The Jazz had only one road victory in its previous 11 away games.
“It’s a relief just to play well in the win,” Hood said. “The wins will come. We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep playing hard and I think it will follow.”
Next up for Utah is a season-high, six-game homestand, which begins Monday night against the Detroit Pistons.
The Jazz are looking forward to that.
“It’s always good to be home,” Snyder said.
Winning by 22 on the road isn’t so bad, either.
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