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Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic lays the ball up during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Bojan Bogdanovic recaptures shooting touch as Jazz rout severely short-handed Nets

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:25 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Bojan Bogdanovic has spent the last few days watching his old game film. He needed a reminder that he was actually a good shooter.

Bogdanovic came into the Utah Jazz's 118-88 win over the heavily short-handed Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday in the midst of what he called "the worst stretch" of his career. Over the last five games, he was shooting 24% from the field and 12% from the 3-point line.

Nothing had changed: defenses weren't guarding him differently, the shots hadn't been less open, and his wrist was fine — he was just missing.

Compound the bricks with ill-fated drives to the hoop and poor decisions in general, and some fans have even called for the Jazz to trade the forward who averaged 20 points per game last season, before Thursday's trade deadline.

So leading up to the game, instead of focusing on recent games, he watched clips of him making shots and playing well. Sometimes that's all you need.

While Wednesday proved to be one of Utah's easiest wins of the season — that happens when Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and even Blake Griffin all sit out — it gave Bogdanovic a chance to break out of his slump.

"I'm making bad decisions on when to attack (versus) when to calm down and just wait in the corner for my shot. … I've got to be stronger with the ball, and wait on those shots that are gonna be there for me," he said.

Bogdanovic was 4 of 6 from 3 and had 18 points against the Nets. Each made shot seemed to come with a sigh of relief from Bogdanovic and from his teammates.

After Bogdanovic drained his first 3 of the night, Donovan Mitchell did an animated fist-pump, and Rudy Gobert gave him an encouraging tap on the rear.

When the veteran forward hit two straight, Jordan Clarkson, who is also going through a shooting slump (he was just 1-of-15 on Wednesday), walked near the bench and celebrated.

For the Jazz (32-11) to be at their best, they need Bogdanovic to be the shooter that he's been ever since he entered the league. So there's been no talk of him taking on a lesser role or changing who he is as a player. The coaches saw the struggles for what it is: a slump. And they were hopeful it was a short-lived one.

"The message is just keep being who you are and keep attacking and keep shooting," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "That said, certainly for someone that's as much of a perfectionist as he is, it hurts him to miss. And sometimes you internalize that to a point, it makes it harder."

And without a lot of time to get in the gym due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bogdanovic wasn't really able to just shoot and shoot until things clicked again.

So he rolled back some old tape instead. On Wednesday, at least, that worked.

To be fair, though, just about everything worked against the junior varsity Nets. The Jazz led by 21 at the end of the first quarter and by as many as 38.

Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and added seven assists and six rebounds. Mike Conley had 18 points and Georges Niang had 15 off the bench.

A sequence in the third quarter showed just how much of a playground game this was to the Jazz. Rudy Gobert, who had 8 points and 11 rebounds, went one-on-one from the perimeter on a play that ended with a layup attempt that just rolled off.

It was the type of play that he probably wouldn't have tried in a game that was even a little competitive. Gobert quickly made up for it when he ran down the court and swatted a layup on the other end.

The Jazz got a night to joke around a little, and Bogdanovic got a chance to work through a slump. All in all, not a bad night for the top team in the league.

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