Coming off a disheartening loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, the Utah Jazz desperately needed a win at home on Monday night. Facing the Brooklyn Nets, who entered the game with a 13-12 record and in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, it was anything but a guarantee that the Jazz would come away with the victory.
The Jazz struggled from 3-point range early, going 4-18 in the first half, and struggled to contain Nets guard Cam Thomas, who had 11 first-half points to stake Brooklyn to a 59-54 halftime lead.
Talen Horton-Tucker paced the Jazz with 10 points in the 3rd quarter as they opened up an 88-82 lead going into the 4th and the home crowd came back to life.
Then the rest of the team got into the act, as the Jazz went 10-16 from deep in the 2nd half to blow the game open. THT had 12 more points in the 4th Quarter as the Jazz went up by as many as 20, before finishing with a 125-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
A few thoughts:
Cam Thomas led the Nets with 32 points on 12-23 shooting, however, this wasn't due to bad defense on the Jazz's part - he was contested on many of his shots. The Nets were -17 with him on the floor. Meanwhile, Mikal Bridges struggled to a 4-16 night shooting and had 13 points and 5 assists as the Jazz defended him well most of the night.
Utah has won 3 of 4 games and had John Collins back in the lineup tonight just in time for the pre-Christmas road trip. Collins had 11 points and a blocked shot in 20 minutes, and Will Hardy mentioned in the postgame presser that he would likely be used in the reserve center role for the immediate future.
Collin Sexton was a beast tonight, getting 27 points, and dishing 6 assists while going 12 of 13 from the free throw stripe. He drew a lot of traffic on his drives to the basket and made the Jazz offense go.
Talen Horton-Tucker had arguably his best game this season, with 27 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, and just 1 turnover in 31 minutes, while shooting 57% from the field and 71% from 3-point range.
Walker Kessler played an outstanding game, with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. He altered several more and looked like he was more comfortable even against a physical Nets frontline.
The Utah Jazz are now 10-17 on the season. They play their next 5 games on the road, before returning to the Delta Center for a 3 game homestand (Miami, Dallas, Detroit).