Utah Jazz find fresh-enough legs late to beat Brooklyn Nets

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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell quickly chimed in as Rudy Gobert explained hie late night on Monday.

“I got home at 3 (a.m.),” Gobert said.

“You drive slow!” Mitchell interrupted.

“I’m trying to make it sound worse,” Gobert answered back. “OK, I got home at 2:45.”

Whether it was 2:45 or 3 a.m., it was a very late night (early morning?) for the Jazz before they got set to play the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. The Nets aren’t the best team the Jazz have faced this year, but considering the circumstances (and how the game was going), Tuesday’s 119-114 win over Brooklyn might just be Utah’s best win of the early season.

Gobert is used to winning games with his defense. On Tuesday, it was his offense that put the Utah Jazz over the top for good.

Gobert made two go-ahead buckets in the final 1:31 of the game to help lift the Jazz to the victory.

This was a gritty win. The Jazz, who improved to 8-3, trailed by 15 at the half, were playing on the back end of a back-to-back, and there were times it appeared they simply didn’t have the legs to keep pace with the Nets.

Utah was just 1 of 13 from 3 in the opening half and less than 24 hours after they had posted 30 assists in a win over the Warriors, the Jazz had just six in the first two quarters.

That slow start might have been expected. Heck, an entire sluggish game might have been.

The Jazz landed at the Salt Lake City airport around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning hours after a win against Golden State in a game that didn’t tip off till after 8:30 p.m. MST. It wasn’t long until they were back on the court.

“I think we were a step slow in the first half, they also hit a lot of shots in the first half, which got them going,” Gobert said.

The Jazz posted their worst defensive half of the season in the first half against the Nets, giving up 68 points and allowing the Nets to shoot 56.1% from the field.

“I think in an 82-game season there are going to be halftimes like that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I think the main thing is to figure out and be honest with yourself as a group why you are playing the way you are playing. We weren’t defending the way that we could. We were also sluggish offensively. We just had to be sharper mentally. These guys have a lot of character. I think it is a competitive group and they competed together. I thought with a 15-point (Brooklyn) lead there was no way that we were going to shut down.”

And they didn’t.

The Jazz opened up the second half with a 13-0 run to claw back into the game, highlighted by a three-quarter-court pass from Mitchell to Bojan Bogdanovic for a layup, to claw back into the game.

And that wasn’t the only pivotal run. Faced with an eight-point deficit to start the fourth, the Jazz went on a 19-6 flurry, led by Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay, to take the lead.

With tired legs, It was a complete team effort that brought the Jazz back. Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles made Kyrie Irving take 30 shots to reach 27 points.

Mudiay and Green scored the first 17 points of the fourth quarter. Mitchell poured in 30 points. Mike Conley had 18 points and five assists. Gobert finished with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

And none bigger than his final two buckets.

With 1:31 left, Conley zipped a pass inside through traffic that Gobert snagged and softly put in the hoop to give the Jazz the lead. And after Brooklyn tied the game again, Gobert put back a Mitchell miss to put the Jazz ahead for good.

“I think they understood they came out and they hit us first,” Mitchell said. “But we came and understood what we needed to do and picked it up on the defensive end and made it tough on them and we were able to get stops and then run.”

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