We just got beat tonight. —Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
BROOKLYN — Lying in a hospital bed from a Manhattan location Friday night, injured Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell tweeted a photo of himself before his team tipped off against the Utah Jazz.
“Tuned in Let’s Go Nets! #BrooklynGrit” he posted.
Even without their young leader, the Nets were still able to hand the Jazz their sixth consecutive road loss, 118-107, at Barclays Center.
Russell underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee before the game to help with a left knee contusion he suffered last weekend in Salt Lake City.
Utah remains the league’s lone team without a road win and has lost seven of its past eight games.
“We were missing assignments defensively and once we got that down pat, we couldn’t stay in front of nobody so that was uncharacteristic of us, but we’ve got one tomorrow to get this bad taste out of our mouth,” said Jazz guard Rodney Hood, who ended up with 17 points. “We need a win bad.”
To Utah’s credit, key members Ricky Rubio (right Achilles soreness) and Thabo Sefolosha (right knee soreness) were kept out of the game, in addition to previously injured stars Rudy Gobert (tibia contusion), Joe Johnson (wrist) and Dante Exum (shoulder) who still couldn’t play.
Realistically, the team was only nine players deep with two-way guard Nate Wolters filling in on short notice.
“There’s a bit of realism in this,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “Thabo was a big matchup for us tonight, he couldn’t play. Our point guard couldn’t play, Ricky Rubio. Rudy’s out.
“Those are times where you need even more from other people,” he added. "It’s not an excuse but our team has to realize in those moments that the margin of error is much smaller.”
Utah fell behind by as many as 22 points but used a 31-24 run in the third quarter to trim the deficit to single digits and make the game competitive.
Brooklyn shot a season-high 50. 6 percent from the field and had a career-best performance from Spencer Dinwiddie who finished with 25 points, eight assists, five boards, two steals and zero turnovers in 31 minutes.
“I think as a starter as a point guard in my position you try to lead,” Dinwiddie said. “I didn’t do anything different because of his (D’Angelo Russell) injury. I would like to think we won for him though because our heart goes out to him, he is our teammate and our brother. We feel for him at this time. A lot of us have had injuries and things of that nature.”
Without Rubio, rookie Donovan Mitchell started at point guard for the first time of his career with Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Jonas Jerebko and Derrick Favors.
Mitchell nearly finished with a triple-double with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Raul Neto came off the bench to contribute a career-high 22 points and seven boards. The stats didn’t matter to Neto, though.
“Of course, I’m not happy we lost the game but it’s good to have minutes and it’s good to play well,” Neto said. “I think (about) working hard every day. We travel a lot, which makes it hard to have practice and play 5-on-5 with the team because we’re always traveling or it’s a day off but I’ve got to go on the court and do my job and that’s what I’ve been doing since last year.”
The Jazz fell to 6-10 and look to pick up a win in Orlando on Saturday. The team is searching for answers as things are seemingly falling apart with all the injuries, defensive mishaps and missed opportunities.
“We had some offensive possessions where I thought we had some good looks, some layups we missed,” Snyder said. “We just got beat tonight.”