SALT LAKE CITY — With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, Utah Jazz guard Diante Garrett stepped up to the 3-point line and drilled the 25-foot shot.
It was his second 3 of the night. It marked a new career high for the second-year player. And it captured momentum for the home team, boosting the Jazz to a 13-point lead over visiting Milwaukee by the end of the period and a nine-point lead by the end of the game for the team’s second consecutive victory, 96-87, Thursday at EnergySolutions Arena.
It is clear the 6-foot-4 Milwaukee native is settling in to his new surroundings.
“He’s just letting the game come to him,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, noting Garrett’s career-best 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor and 2-for-2 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
“He’s able to make some shots. He was able to get to the basket a couple of times, get in and make some passes to the other guys,” Corbin said. “(He’s) just feeling the pace of the game and controlling the tempo for us and taking what the defense gives.”
Garrett attributed his shooting performance to finding the open spots on the floor. He is currently shooting 39.5 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from 3-point range, and a perfect 4 for 4 from the foul line.
“(I’m) just taking the good shots and the right shots when it’s available,” he said. “Teams have been leaving me open and not looking for me to shoot the ball. I know I can shoot it if I keep my confidence up. If I shoot like I’m going to make it, I’m going to make it.”
Part of Garrett’s spark Thursday, which led to a stat line of four rebounds, two assists, a steal and just one turnover in nearly 20 minutes of play, came from playing his childhood team.
“Growing up, I was watching the Big 3 when they had Sam Cassell, Ray Allen, and Big Dog (Glenn Robinson) and all those guys,” he said. “Playing against your hometown is fun and I’m glad I came out and played how I played.”
Ultimately, the 25-year-old out of Iowa State is focused on improving every time he steps onto the court — especially with the date for finalizing contracts looming just a week away.
“I haven’t thought about that,” he said. “I’ve been just trying to stay focused on trying to win some games and trying to play good so I can stay here.”
“I just got to be ready when Coach calls me,” Garrett added. “I just got to stay ready, and whenever he wants me to go in the game, I got to go do what I got to go do. (I’m) just keeping my confidence up and playing with that aggressiveness and confidence. I think it will help out.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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