Ronnie Brewer was exhausted as he sat in the locker room after playing a team-high 42 minutes on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena after the Utah Jazz's 120-93 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
His extended playing time wasn't unexpected, though. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan had to play Brewer a ton with wing players Andrei Kirilenko (back), C.J. Miles (thumb), Kyle Korver (knee) and Matt Harpring (ankle knee) all out with injuries.
"We're a little undermanned, so me and Wes Mathews and Eric Maynor and D-Will (Deron Williams) had to play a lot of minutes," said Brewer. "It made me a little nervous because our big guys got into some foul trouble early and I thought we were going to have to play four guards at the same time at one point."
That never happened, but it still made for a lot of court time for Brewer against the young, athletic Grizzlies. He responded to the challenge by scoring a season-high 25 points — on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. It was just one point off his career high of 26 points set last season against Sacramento.
"I'm just excited that I played well and we got the win," said Brewer. "When I'm out there, I don't think about how many points I've got or about my career high or any of that. I just want to go out there and knock down some shots and finish in the lane when I've got the ball."
Brewer put an exclamation point on Utah's blowout victory with 5:30 remaining in the game with a thunderous reverse dunk on the baseline giving the Jazz a 114-84 lead and bringing what was left of the home crowd to its feet.
Sloan, who is never easy to impress, had a mixed review of Brewer's performance.
"Ronnie made some nice baskets and he played hard," said the Jazz's Hall of Fame coach. "He needs to continue to improve himself on the defensive end of the floor and in rebounding. He also needs to learn when to go for the rebound or get back on defense. He gets caught in no-man's land there sometimes in transition, and that hurts his production."
Despite having a short bench of late, the Jazz have been playing well. Utah — after shooting better than 60 percent as a team the previous two games — had made 61.7 percent of its shots through three quarters on Monday before coasting in the fourth quarter and finishing with a still-impressive 58.4 percent clip for the game.
"We're making extra passes," said Brewer of the Jazz's recent success. "We're defending, we're helping each other and we're playing good basketball. We're starting to win games at home that we are supposed to be winning. Hopefully we can take this energy on to the next game and carry that onto the road as well."