Coming off three straight losses? Check. Minus three starters? Yes. Starting two young big guys, ages 21 and 20? You’ve got it. The Utah Jazz had a lot going against them, but the recent woes were snapped thanks to one of the most comfortable victories of the season. The short-handed home squad handily defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 98-68.
Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin found himself without veterans Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams. The trio is responsible for 45.7 points, 18.7 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per outing. In their absence, the Jazz bandied together to produce an excellent team effort.
Career night: Second-year center Enes Kanter came into the game averaging 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game. He has definitely had his moments, but finds himself playing in a crowded front court of talented big men.
Kanter took advantage of the situation and had easily the best night of his NBA life. In a career-high 45 minutes, he was just too much for the underwhelming Bobcats front court. Scoring on a variety of moves, Kanter was 10-of-12 from the floor and corralled a massive 22 rebounds to go with 23 points. Both of those also constituted career-highs. He was solid of defense, as well.
Should Jefferson or Millsap be out for a bit, Kanter showed Friday night that he is capable of putting up some big numbers.
Bench play: Kanter was not the only one who stepped up for Utah. Seldom-used Jeremy Evans produced one of his finest games of his young career. In 26 minutes, the high-flying former NBA Slam Dunk champion shot 6-8 from the field and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The ever-hustling DeMarre Carroll was equally efficient, hitting 7 of 10 field goals en route to a 19-point, three-steal evening. Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks continued their strong play, finishing with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Three reserves had +/- marks of +22 or better.
When it was said and done, the Jazz bench outscored their Bobcat counterparts 57-34.
Odds n’ ends:
—Utah simply outran the listless Bobcats, dominating the fast break battle 30-2.
—Charlotte was paced by Byron Mullens, who only had 12 points. Only one other Charlotte player finished in double-digit scoring.
—The Jazz had a difficult time holding on to the ball, committing 22 turnovers (to their 23 assists).
—After not playing the past two games, point guard Jamaal Tinsley had five assists in 14 minutes.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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