Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
The Utah Jazz improved their NBA-best win-loss record to 32-11 after beating the Brooklyn Nets 118-88 at home Wednesday.
Utah led wire-to-wire against the short-handed Nets, who played without Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain), Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), Blake Griffin (left knee injury management), Landry Shamet (right ankle sprain) and James Harden (neck soreness).
Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting for the Jazz, who opened the contest on a 16-4 run en route to leading Brooklyn 38-17 after the first quarter.
The Nets were led by Alize Johnson, who signed a 10-day contract with Brooklyn on Monday. The 24-year-old posted a team-high 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting and 15 rebounds in his Nets debut.
Utah improved to 17-2 at Vivint Arena. The Nets, which entered Wednesday as winners of 16 of their last 18 games, fell to 30-15. They now sit 1.5 games back of the Philadelphia 76ers for first in the Eastern Conference.
Nets F Alize Johnson: 23 points, 15 rebounds, 2 steals
Nets F Reggie Perry: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals
Nets G Chris Chiozza: 10 points, 11 assists, 2 steals
Jazz G Donovan Mitchell: 27 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds
Jazz C Rudy Gobert: 8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
Jazz G Mike Conley: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals
Jazz Win by 1st-Round Knockout
The Jazz threw the first punch Wednesday and never looked back as they cruised to an easy victory over a Nets team missing its three superstars in addition to a pair of key bench contributors.
Naturally, the Nets squad that took the court on the road against the best team the NBA has to offer right now faced an arduous task. Meanwhile, Utah had the opportunity to put this game away before halftime and took it en route to a blowout.
Defense routinely turned into offensive opportunities, with Conley stripping Bruce Brown of the ball and taking care of business himself:
Royce O’Neale then pulled off the basketball equivalent of a pick-six when he intercepted a Jeff Green crosscourt pass and finished the job on the other end:
On offense, the Jazz entered the night first in the NBA with 16.9 three-pointers per game and knocked down 11 in the first half (23 overall). Joe Ingles found himself wide open in the corner for his contribution:
Mitchell hit four of those 11 Jazz three-pointers en route to 20 first-half points, and he capped the half with this bucket to put Utah up 63-38 at the break:
Sarah Todd of the Deseret News offered her assessment of the first 12 minutes:
And Tony Jones of The Athletic provided his take on what he saw after two quarters:
Ultimately, the Jazz shouldn’t have had any problems against a severely depleted Nets team.
However, they fared so well that Utah was able to rest its starters in the fourth quarter, perhaps giving the Jazz fresher legs going into a brutal stretch with 12 games in 19 days beginning Friday.
And now Utah has a full three-game lead on the Western Conference field en route to searching for its first No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs since 1997-98.
Both teams play next on Friday.
Brooklyn will finish its three-game road trip with a matchup against the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. ET at Little Caesars Arena.
Utah will stay home to host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and Saturday, with both games starting at 9 p.m.