SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Without their three superstars, the Brooklyn Nets had no chance against the top team in the NBA.
Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points and the Utah Jazz routed the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 118-88 on Wednesday night.
“The biggest thing was trying to be aggressive, get downhill, make plays, get on the rim and finish,” said Mitchell, who made 11 of 17 shots from the field. “That was just my mindset from the jump. Tonight, we really showed the mental fortitude throughout the entire game to continue keep our foot on the pedal.”
Bojan Bogdanovic, who was mired in a 3-for-25 shooting slump from 3-point range, made 4 of 6 3-point attempts and scored 18 for the Jazz, who have won four of five and 17 straight at home.
“It felt great to see shots go in,” Bogdanovic said, who was shooting just 16 percent from three-point range in the six games since the All-Star break. “We had a really tough schedule on the road for the 21 out of 27 days. So we are trying to find a rhythm and play that Jazz basketball that everybody loves,”
This matchup between Eastern and Western Conference contenders lost some luster when the Nets James Harden was scratched due to a sore neck. He joined teammates Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons) on the injured list.
Mitchell made five 3-pointers in three quarters of action. He has increased his efficiency of late, averaging 32.5 points over his last four games.
The Jazz played at home for the first time this month. They had slipped from the hottest team in the NBA to one struggling to score and defend.
Utah, which has the best record in the NBA at 32-11, remained stingy on defense while firing 3-pointers from every angle. The Jazz made 23 of 55 from beyond the arc against Brooklyn’s slow defensive rotations.
Jordan Clarkson made just one of 15 shots from the field, but that one was a three-pointer, extending his streak to 69 straight games with at least one three ball.
Alize Johnson, who was signed to a 10-day contract on Monday, had a career-high 23 points and 15 rebounds for Brooklyn.
The Nets had won 16 of 18 games despite missing one primary player or another most nights. The latest example was Harden’s 25 points and a career-high 17 assists to power Brooklyn past Portland 116-112 on Tuesday night.
But Harden wasn’t on the court against the Jazz and the Nets sorely missed his scoring and playmaking skills Brooklyn shot 35% and had only 19 assists as a team. Harden was engaged in the game, coaching his teammates and even directing a few words toward the officials.
Mike Conley scored 10 of his 18 points in the first 4:22 of the game to stake the Jazz to a 16-4 lead. By the end of the quarter, Utah led 38-17. That was a role reversal from Utah’s worst showing of the season on Jan. 5 in Brooklyn, when the Nets led 35-14 on their way to a 130-96 win.
Meanwhile, Joe Harris, the lone regular starter for the Nets, played five scoreless minutes and sat for the rest of the game.
At halftime, the Jazz led 63-38 – the lowest scoring first half of the season for Brooklyn.
Mitchell made a driving layup and 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 78-40 in the third quarter, which was their largest margin over an opponent all season.
Even with all their stars, the Nets have struggled defensively this season and relied on their supercharged offense to get their wins. But without their sharpshooters, the Nets’ league-leading .587 effective shooting percentage seemed a distant memory.
The Nets have dropped five straight in Utah; their road victory over the Jazz was 98-96 in 2016