Hill scores 34, Jazz beat Nets 112-97 in wire-to-wire win
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) George Hill called his two-point performance in a loss Wednesday ”horse poop.” The Utah Jazz guard’s uber-efficient effort Friday night was the exact opposite.
Hill scored a season-high 34 points and the Jazz handled the Brooklyn Nets wire-to-wire in a 112-97 victory. He became the ninth player in the last 50 years to score 34-plus points on 12 or fewer shots after going 10 for 12 – and putting his previous poor performance behind him.
”As a competitor, you take that in consideration and try to come out a little more aggressive and get more involved and try to have one of those bounce-back games,” Hill said. ”As a competitor, you always want to play well. When you play like some horse poop like I did last game, that’s in the back of your head to do a lot better.”
The Jazz snapped a two-game losing streak and extended their lead for the No. 4 Western Conference playoff spot by 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Clippers. The teams behind the Jazz in the standings – Clippers, Grizzlies, Thunder – all lost Friday.
Utah put the game away with a 19-5 stretch in the third quarter, capped by Rudy Gobert’s alley-oop dunk from Dante Exum.
”I thought they really overwhelmed us physically,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. ”They are a big strong team and George Hill was fantastic and they are a very good team. We just didn’t have the energy to be able to compete with them tonight.”
Utah had great ball movement on offense and Brooklyn’s defense never got the Jazz out of rhythm. On the other end, Quincy Acy scored a season-high 18 points and Brook Lopez had 17 – the only Nets to consistently get anything going on the offensive end.
”That’s who we are,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the fast start after a 27-point loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. ”We’ve got a group of guys that has pride. We all know we didn’t have a good outing. That didn’t surprise me one bit.
”We came out with the right mindset.”
The Jazz took a 60-51 lead into halftime after a hot start in the first quarter. Utah scored 38 points in the in first 12 minutes, its second-most in the quarter this season.
Hill and Favors combined for 25 first-quarter points and as the Jazz shot 65.0 percent from the field in the quarter.
”I think they do a great job of helping each other out,” Lopez said. ”They play with a lot of pressure and that lets them play in that open court. But, at the same time, offensively they are very meticulous in what they do and they are great at reading what the defense gives them and making them pay for it.
”I thought they did a great job on both of those things tonight.”
Nets: Friday was the fourth game of an eight-game road trip that has spanned both sides of the All-Star break. … Joe Harris did not return after halftime and was being evaluated for a concussion. … Lopez passed Richard Jefferson for the third-most minutes played in franchise history.
Jazz: Rodney Hood missed his second consecutive game with knee soreness. … Joe Johnson didn’t play due to left groin soreness. … The Jazz are 14-1 when Hill scores 20-plus points.
Jeremy Lin played in his fourth game since missing 26 games with a strained left hamstring. Lin signed with the Nets during the offseason, but has missed 44 games this season. Atkinson said he’ll gradually increase Lin’s minutes. He finished with seven points in 17 minutes Friday.
”He’s making me a better coach, I know that,” Atkinson said. ”There’s the experience. Against Sacramento (on Wednesday), him and Brook, the comfort level that they have. It’s what we thought when we brought him in. The little games that he’s played with us, it’s kind of what I thought.”
Nets: Brooklyn travels to face Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
Jazz: Utah travels to face the Sacramento Kings and newly acquired Buddy Hield on Sunday.