The Skinny: The Nets exhibited good ball movement early in getting all their offensive weapons involved. Gerald Wallace cleaned up around the basket, scoring eight points in the opening frame. The Jazz started the quarter cold from the outside but were effective in the paint, trailing the Nets by just four points after the first quarter.
Brooklyn’s second unit defense looked sluggish to start the second quarter, allowing the Jazz to take their first lead on fast-break points. But the Nets immediately followed with a 12-0 run led by Joe Johnson to open a 13-point lead. Brooklyn kept up the intensity for the remainder of the half especially in the paint, and a Wallace three-pointer at the buzzer allowed the Nets to maintain their 13-point lead at the break.
The Nets looked like a different team to start the third quarter, with four missed shots and three turnovers on their first seven possessions of the second half. Utah attacked the basket in the paint and cut the deficit to five, forcing Avery Johnson to call a timeout. Later in the quarter, former Net Derrick Favors converted on an alley-oop to cut Brooklyn’s lead to one. But a Johnson three in the closing seconds put the Nets back up four after three quarters.
The Jazz kept it close through the first half of the fourth quarter and eventually regained the lead on a Mo Williams three as part of a 7-0 run. The Nets trailed by four with 31.6 seconds left but caught a break on a Jazz turnover off an inbound pass. Johnson hit a pair of free-throws to cut the Jazz lead to two. Trying for a steal, the Nets left the clock run to 14.5 seconds before fouling. Wallace came up with a steal on a scramble, but his three-point attempt hit the rim. Reggie Evans grabbed the rebound, but his fall-away bank shot missed at the buzzer.
High Scorers: Johnson led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. For the Jazz, Mo Williams led the way with 19 points on 6-of-17 from the field.
Key Stats: The Jazz outrebounded the Nets, 48-38, including 27-14 in the second half.
Who Was Hot: Al Jefferson recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Marvin Williams also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Favors poured in 13 points off the bench for Utah. Brook Lopez scored 16 points in 30:28.
Who Was Not: The Nets in the third quarter were certainly not hot. Brooklyn was outscored 26-17 in the frame, shooting just 6-for-17 from the field. The Nets were also outscored 18-10 in the paint in the third quarter.
Fun Fact: With his three blocks, Lopez now has 13 multiple block games this season.
This is another heartbreaking loss for the Nets after leading by 13 points at halftime. But again, the third quarter has been this team’s arch nemesis this season.
The Jazz came into this game at 4-10 on the road, and once the Nets established the lead, they looked to be in cruise control. However, the game does not end until the final buzzer sounds.
Evans almost sent the game to overtime, but based on the Nets’ play in the second half scoring just 33 points, Brooklyn didn’t deserve to win this one.
Jefferson came into the game averaging 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 18 career games against the Nets, and he finished with a very similar stat line. Deron Williams is now 0-3 against his former team.
Brooklyn (13-11) will travel to Madison Square Garden for the first time this season to take on the Knicks in round three of the “Battle of the Boroughs.” The 7 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN and the YES network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.