by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Bowmer of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (24-24) takes on the Brooklyn Nets (27-17) in their first meeting of the season in the middle of their three-game homestand.
Return of O’Neale
Before tip-off, Utah had a video tribute to former Jazzman Royce O’Neale (13/5/6), who spent five years in Utah before being traded to Brooklyn this past offseason. The crowd roared in his return to Salt Lake City but after the tribute, fans knew it was time to lock in and see him as an opponent rather than a Jazzman.
Alma Bean on Twitter: “Nice homecoming video for Royce O’Neale before the lineups were announced for Brooklyn #TakeNote #UtahJazz #Team49 https://t.co/3JFRRVhQdM” / Twitter
In the first quarter, Utah struggled to find a rhythm on the floor. Utah shot 2/11 (18.2%) from the perimeter and 7/22 (31.8%) from the field. Even went for a scary 6/12 (50%) from the free-throw line for the quarter. Nic Claxton (20/5/1) was able to get everything he wanted against Walker Kessler (2 points and 6 rebounds) shooting 4/5 (80%) in the quarter, including a two-handed dunk on Kessler. With Brooklyn’s lockdown defense, Utah’s bench was able to outscore Brooklyn 10-2 but still finished the quarter trailing 28-22.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “where’s he going? nobody knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #TakeNote | @jordanclarksons https://t.co/k8n6gjK9V4” / Twitter
After a bumpy start, Utah began to find its footing in the second quarter. For starters, free throws were finally going in shooting 5/5 (100%) then improving their overall shooting. Utah went 4/8 (50%) from the perimeter and 12/21 (57.1%). For the first half, neither team was able to break away and Utah’s defensive effort from Ochai Agbaji (1 rebound) may be a big reason for that. Agbaji didn’t have an impressive stat line, but he managed to finish the first half with the best plus/minus on Utah with +8. Utah’s ability to find the basket frequently in the second quarter, scoring 33 points even with a contained Lauri Markkanen (22/1/11), propelled them to a 55-51 lead to end the half.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “(young) bullseye 🎯 #TakeNote | @CollinSexton02 https://t.co/6lpvfkhbB7” / Twitter
Momentum flipped once players returned to the court for the second half. Brooklyn came out firing on all cylinders going 5/10 (50%) from the perimeter and 11/19 (57.9%) from the field. Their only offensive flaw was their free-throw shooting. Compared to Utah’s first-quarter numbers, Brooklyn still shot better, but 5/8 (62.5%) isn’t a number to be proud of from the free-throw line. As Utah was starting to lose grip of the lead, Collin Sexton (17 points and 1 assist) hit two back-to-back perimeter shots that got the crowd back into the game as he gestured for them to get up and get loud after the second shot. This resurgence from the crowd was able to uplift Utah to finish the third quarter tied 83-83.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “soarin’ flyin’ 🎵 #TakeNote | @WalkerKessler13 https://t.co/SnjoguOQux” / Twitter
The fourth quarter belonged to Kyrie Irving (48/11/6). Irving shot 7/10 (70%) from the field and 4/6 (66.7%) from the perimeter in the final quarter of play. Of Irving’s 48 points, 21 of those points came in the final quarter. Brooklyn scored 34 points in the fourth quarter. The Mamba mentality kicked in for Irving and unfortunately for Utah, whenever they would score, Irving always had an answer. Especially with Brooklyn shooting 11/17 (64.7%) for the quarter, Utah needed to play a perfect quarter to keep things competitive. Utah shooting on 8/23 (34.8%) was the response they could gather up. Even with the offensive firepower from Jordan Clarkson (29/4/5), Utah finished the night with a loss on their record 117-106.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “00 vs 00 #TakeNote https://t.co/gmfl0uNECd” / Twitter
Utah will get the weekend off before seeing the Charlotte Hornets at home for the first time this season on Monday.