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SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets featured two teams that are different in many respects.
The Nets are one of the more veteran teams in the league, whereas the Jazz are one of the youngest. Nets coach Lionel Hollins is a successful, proven leader in the league, whereas Jazz coach Quin Snyder is leading a team for the first time.
In spite of all of their differences, the two teams will be forever tied for one reason, and it’s not Hollins’ tie to Dixie State University in St. George. Instead, the tie comes from the biggest trade in the history of the Utah franchise, when franchise guard Deron Williams was traded to the then-New Jersey Nets for rookie forward Derrick Favors, along with a menagerie of other players and draft picks. The picks turned into players like Enes Kanter and Trey Burke.
In a long-term view, Utah has benefitted from the trade, with Williams’ numbers consistently falling since he left the Wasatch Front. On the other side, Favors’ numbers are at a career-high, as he averages 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, and Kanter and Burke are solid contributors for Utah.
The Jazz also benefited in the short-term, as Utah had one of its best offensive performances of the season, picking up a blowout 108-73 win over a Williams-less Brooklyn.
The Jazz shot 53.2 percent from the field. Additionally, the team made 13 3-point attempts, and guard Joe Ingles had a career-high 16 points.
Snyder said the performance is a sign his team is maturing.
“The biggest thing that we’ve talked about is let's be obviously unselfish,” said Snyder, whose team finished with 23 assists. “I felt like we had that tonight, and generally when you do that, good things will happen. And we played pretty good on top of that tonight.”
In his second consecutive start, rookie Dante Exum made an impact in his first start Thursday at Milwaukee, netting 15 points in 35 minutes. The Australian finished with 13 points on the night, while Burke scored 19 off the bench.
While his spot in the roster is different, Burke said he’s focused on providing a top-quality performance to the team, regardless of whether he starts or not.
“Whatever they need me to do, I’m willing to do,” he said. “The No. 1 mindset is just being ready to play, being locked in. When you do come off the bench and you do get into the game, you’ve already gotten a feel for the game from the bench.”
Jazz forward Gordon Hayward finished with a team-high 24 points while holding Nets counterpart Joe Johnson to six points.
While the offense was noted, Hayward said the team’s defense was an important factor in the win.
“It was a solid, all-around win for us tonight,” he said. “We put our foot down a little bit, got a good cushion, and rode that to the end. We’re starting to figure things out.
“Since the Chicago game, defensively, we’ve playing really well. It’s just been more our offense.”
Utah is on a two-game winning streak and has a chance for its first three-game winning streak of the season Monday against the Boston Celtics.
While there will be momentum from the win over Brooklyn, Burke said it’s important the team continues the constructive patterns it's been in.
“We’re taking steps as a team,” he said. “Every day we come in and watch film. Sometimes we may not feel like it, but it’s in our best interest because we know what we’re supposed to do out there on the court. As long as we execute it, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.”