If there was one game this season that confirmed the Brooklyn Nets as a genuine NBA Championship contender, it was their 130-96 demolition of the Utah Jazz on the 6th January. That win was achieved without the injured Kevin Durant and the soon-to-be-acquired James Harden.
Fast-forward a couple of months and last night the Nets would once again lock horns with the Jazz, only this time not only would Durant and Harden be missing, the latter due to a stiff neck, but also Kyrie Irving would be sitting out.
The Nets also would be forced to do without Spencer Dinwiddie, Landry Shamet and Blake Griffin too as their decimated squad had just ten players in total for the game. The omens were not good.
And so it proved as Utah Jazz moved to 32-11 on the season with a thumping 118-88 victory, at one stage the Jazz were 38 points ahead of their opponents.
“We Don’t Take Anything From This”
Coach Steve Nash was dismissive about the game following the defeat and admitted that once the Nets had fallen far behind as early as the third quarter, he had decided to opt for a little self-preservation by resting some of his squad.
Nets coach Steve Nash provides an update on James Harden, Blake Griffin and Landry Shamet after tonight’s loss. pic.twitter.com/WYn6Zszh6W
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 25, 2021
“Yeah, we don’t take anything from this,” he commented.
“Missing our three top players, missing Blake. Once the game got away early, we were able to rest some of our other rotation guys.”
“So, we don’t take anything from this game except for the opportunity for young guys to develop and play and get an opportunity. So we’ll move on to Detroit and hopefully have some guys back to play.”
“That’s a great team, the team with the best record in the league. We went out there severely undermanned, and most importantly stuck together, played hard, defensively were pretty good – maybe gave up too many 3s, but otherwise did a lot of good things defensively. I just told them I was proud of them.”
The one bright spot on the night for Nets fans was the performance of the newly signed G-league star Alize Johnson who scored 23 points and landed 15 rebounds.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 25, 2021
Strong Performance From The Jazz
In contrast, Utah Jazz landed a 17th consecutive home win on the back of a very solid team display. Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points. Rudy Gobert landed 11 rebounds, while both Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley Jr. both netted 18 points.
The victory maintained Utah Jazz place at the top of the Western Conference, while the Nets dropped a further game behind the 76ers, who they face on April 15, as well as dropping to third in the Eastern Conference table behind the resurgent Milwaukee Bucks, who have won all their last eight.
The Jazz have now won their last three and hold a three-game lead over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference.
Next up for the Nets is a trip to Detroit to take on the bottom of the conference Pistons. James Harden could be fit enough to play in that game but it remains to be seen whether Kyrie Irving is available. Kevin Durant will once again miss out through injury.
The Jazz are next in action at the weekend when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies at home.