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Jazz hold off Nets, halt four-game skid
SALT LAKE CITY -- After a four-game losing streak in which their offense produced just 95.3 points per game, the Utah Jazz -- playing without center Rudy Gobert -- beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-106 on Saturday.
The win didn’t come without some drama, however. Utah had a lead that reached 18 points multiple times in the second half, but let Brooklyn rally to cut its deficit to just four with less than a minute to play.
The Jazz won a critical jump ball with 50 seconds remaining, and Nets guard Joe Harris promptly fouled Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell, who made both free throws.
Jazz forward Thabo Sefalosha missed a layup on an ensuing fast break, which Mitchell rebounded and scored to give the Jazz an eight-point lead and, eventually, the win.
Mitchell (26 points) had his third game scoring 20 or more in the month of November, making it the fourth such game for the first-year player from the University of Louisville.
Utah played without Gobert, who was ruled out an hour before tip-off due to a right knee contusion sustained Friday night in a home loss to the Miami Heat. Jazz forward Derrick Favors stepped up in Gobert’s absence, scoring 24 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, well above his season averages of 10.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.
“Derrick was terrific,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “I was really proud of him, the minutes he played. I just thought he played with a lot of heart.”
Favors wasn’t the only one to win praise from the Jazz coach, however.
“It was a gritty effort with Rudy (Gobert) out in particular,” Snyder said. “I think the effort got rewarded with some shots going in.”
The Jazz needed that sort of reward after shooting barely above 30 percent in a home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday and 33.8 percent in a Friday loss to the Miami Heat.
Mitchell -- who’s shooting 34.5 percent from the field this season -- shot 55 percent Saturday night to accompany the effort from Favors.
“When you get to the basket, it opens up your outside shot,” Mitchell said, when asked how he led the team in scoring.
The Nets noticed Mitchell, Favors, and guard Rodney Hood being aggressive early in the game.
“I didn’t think we were focused in the beginning,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I thought right off the bat, I thought they jumped on us. They were the more aggressive team and got us out of sorts.”
Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“I felt like we weren’t there energy-wise,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I feel like there could have been a lot better concentration.”
The Nets entered Salt Lake City on the second night of a back-to-back. Brooklyn beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, but couldn’t carry that momentum to a win in its final contest of a five-game West Coast road trip.
“Listen, I will say I think it’s a positive road trip,” Atkinson said. “I thought we improved as a team. We came together and I look at it as a positive road trip.”
Brooklyn finished its road trip with a 2-3 record, its only wins coming against the Phoenix Suns and Portland.
Nets guard D‘Angelo Russell scored 26 points along with six rebounds and three assists while Hollis-Jefferson had 19 points and six rebounds.
Toward the end of the game, Russell was injured and received medical attention after the final buzzer. No official word was given as to his health status.
“We’re checking him out now,” Atkinson said. “I think when he landed on a jump, I believe that’s when it happened. (It’s a) knee. They’re evaluating him now. I guess we’ll do more tests tomorrow.”
Brooklyn will return home to play the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
NOTES: Jazz rookie G Donovan Mitchell had his third game scoring 20 or more points in the month of November. He has reached 20 points four times. ... Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson called the game against Utah the “next step” for the Nets, as they haven’t shown an ability yet to consistently win the second game of a back-to-back. ... Prior to Saturday’s game, the Nets had an offensive rating of 102.1, good for 22nd in the NBA, nearly five points better than Utah’s 97.3 offensive rating.