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SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving happens every year in November, but this year the Big Turkey arrived in Utah on March 1.
The Utah Jazz were without their three top scorers, top two rebounders and were starting Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter up front against the Bobcats Friday night. These players have combined for four starts this season, but Kanter was ready to show off what he could do.
What Kanter could do is apparently anything he wants. He played 44 minutes in the Jazz's 98-68 drubbing of the Bobcats and did something only Karl Malone has done in a Utah Jazz uniform, record at least 22 points and 22 rebounds. He ended with 23 points.
I wasn't trying to get my career high or anything. I was going to try to win the game because Big Al and Paul were hurt. So I was just trying to help my team.
"I wasn't trying to get my career high or anything," Kanter said. "I was going to try to win the game because Big Al and Paul were hurt. So I was just trying to help my team."
This has been the calling card for all of the young players. They are ready whenever to help the team out of whatever situation. Sometimes the team won't require a 20/20 performance, but it was pretty close to as perfect a situation as coach Tyrone Corbin could imagine.
"23 and 22 would be pretty good," Corbin said. "10 for 12 from the field. We'll get on him for the five turnovers that he had, but he played a great game. He was big on the inside. He made some great moves on the post."
Kanter's game was fantastic. It also came at one of the biggest times. The Bobcats aren't a powerhouse. However, the Jazz were in need of a win badly. The Jazz were reeling after three straight losses and about to head into a road-heavy schedule.
The Jazz had their backs against the wall. Eight of their next 12 will be on the road. If the Jazz had lost it could have resulted in a long week, month and maybe even rest of the season. But a big game came from Kanter, along with other members of the bench, which could have caught some people off guard if they didn't know what to expect.
"I wouldn't say it surprised me," Corbin said. "I see these guys work all the time so I have different expectations because I see them and have a feel for what they can do when they play right. I thought they did a great job on the defensive end playing right getting stopped. The energy they brought as a result of playing right I thought they did a good job having fun playing."
DeMarre Carroll set a career-high with 19 points playing on a bad knee. Jeremy Evans went from playing a combined eight minutes in February to 26 against the Bobcats and set career-highs with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Randy Foye set the single-season Jazz 3-point shooting record as well.
But at the end of the game the night belonged to Kanter. He was brought in with the third pick last year after not playing a year from Kentucky. This summer was his playtime. He became a crowd favorite for his comedic Twitter account. His wardrobe is very eccentric and the talk of the lockerroom, but when he steps on the court he changes into focused player that has few opponents laughing.
"I don't think he can be any meaner than what he did tonight," Foye said. "For a young player to have 23 and 22, for someone to have that is huge. He works really hard. This guy lifts every single day. He's always does something to better himself. Whether if its on the court or for his body and it shows. I'm really happy for him because I'm always messing with him always bothering him but it shows that he has really grown. He can't turn back now."
Kanter is a comedian. His teammates love him. He has a desire to get better which is shown in the transformation in his body from last season. While he may never have another game this good this isn't a flash in the pan, but the culmination of months of work.