UTAH JAZZ

Irving Scores 48, Jazz Starters Struggle In Loss To Nets

Jan 20, 2023, 10:22 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2023, 12:14 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz had no answer for Kyrie Irving and fell to the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets 117-106.

In the absence of Kevin Durant, Irving scored 48 points on 18-29 shooting to snap the Nets’ four-game losing streak.

Jordan Clarkson scored 29, but the Jazz fell at home to drop below .500.

Jazz Starters Struggle

Despite reasonable numbers on the box score, the Jazz starters played poorly against the Nets.

The issues were on display early as Brooklyn reeled off a 14-0 run early in the first quarter, and the Jazz rarely found ways to slow Iriving or Nic Claxton.

Every Jazz starter finished with a negative plus-minus, rating from Mike Conley’s -10, to Lauri Markkanen’s -21.

On the flip side, the Nets saw no starter finish in the red, led by Irving’s +23 and Claxton’s +29.

Though Ben Simmons was a net zero in plus-minus, his physical defense early flustered Markkanen and made him a non-factor on the offensive end for most of the night.

With the Jazz struggling to shoot early, the team’s guards repeatedly put their heads down to attack the Nets near the rim but were stonewalled against Brooklyn’s length.

“They played far more physically than we did in tonight’s game and that’s why they won, they were very physical with us when we had the ball,” Will Hardy said. “We were not sharp offensively in how we were executing, we gave into their physicality on that end of the floor, and it bled into our focus defensively.”

The Jazz would up shooting a respectable 16-41 from the three-point line for the game, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Nets’ shotmaking.

Brooklyn knocked down nearly 54 percent of their field goals including 18-41 from three to earn the victory in Utah.

Jazz Can’t Win Three Straight

Though the Jazz sit just one game below .500, they’ve run into a bit of a strange pattern with wins and losses.

They can’t win three games in a row.

The Jazz last won three straight between November 6-9, capping their 10-3 start to the season.

Since then the Jazz have had six instances in which they’ve won back-to-back games, but can’t get over the hump to earn a third win.

And, it’s not as though the team has faced a gauntlet of great opponents preventing them from winning three straight.

Within the six third-win opportunities, the Jazz have fallen to the Portland Trail Blazers at home without Damian Lillard, on the road to the San Antonio Spurs on three days rest, and now at home to the Nets who limed into Utah on a four-game losing streak.

This is not a criticism of the Jazz for underachieving, so much as it’s a recognition that even though the team has outperformed expectations this season, they still regularly struggle to perform at a winning level consistently.

The Jazz are in the midst of a crucial 13-game stretch which includes 11 played on their home floor and have performed admirably winning four of the first six.

If the team hopes to qualify for the playoffs this season, they’ll need to finish this stretch well, ideally linking together some longer win streaks.

After the long homestand concludes on February 8, the Jazz begin their final playoff push with 15 of their last 26 games on the road where they’re just 9-16 so far this season.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz and Charlotte Hornets will tip off on Monday at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Irving Scores 48, Jazz Starters Struggle In Loss To Nets