Thanks to the extended All-Star break, the Utah Jazz enjoyed their three-game winning streak for more than a week. It’s a good thing they did, because they are entering a difficult spell of games. And starting with a tough 105-99 loss to the visiting Brooklyn Nets, it could be some rough going for Utah.
It was a tale of two halves for the Jazz and the Nets. In the first, it was all Utah as it sprinted out to a 56-48 lead. Brooklyn looked a step slow, while the Jazz were relatively sharp. In the second, however, Brooklyn seized momentum. The veteran-laden Nets eviscerated Utah’s 13-point lead and moved ahead as the fourth quarter progressed. By the end, Brooklyn had outscored its opponents 57-43 in the second half.
The stellar backcourt of Joe Johnson and former Jazz guard Deron Williams was simply dominant. Johnson did not win last weekend's 3-point shootout, but he was hitting versus the Jazz. He hit four treys en route to a 27-point, six-assist effort. Williams orchestrated the offense and had a solid game with 19 points and seven assists while committing just one turnover.
Enes Kanter filled in for the injured Derrick Favors, tallying 18 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie point guard Trey Burke had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.
Battle of bench performers: While starters on both squads had nice outings, both teams also had some strong performances off the bench. Alec Burks continued his torrid play. He picked up exactly where he left off prior to the time off, aggressively taking the ball to the hoop. The athletic guard made 7-of-14 from the field, while nailing 8-of-9 free throws. Burks ended with 23 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes.
Forward Andray Blatche was the absolute difference maker, though. He was the recipient of some shrewd setups from the Brooklyn guards and was very effective moving without the ball. Blatche hit 11-of-20 shots, coming mostly on a variety of nifty inside moves. He finished with 25 points and six boards in 31 minutes.
This and that:
• Utah almost had as many turnovers (18) as assists (20). Burks and Diante Garrett each committed four miscues. Conversely, Brooklyn had 25 assists and a mere six turnovers — a 4.17 assist/turnover ratio.
• Jazz forward Jeremy Evans had 13 rebounds in 20 minutes, including nine in the first half.
• While his stat line was more pedestrian, former Jazz All-Star Andrei Kirilenko was active throughout.
• Future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combined for just 13 points.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.