Jazz tab victory over Nets

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Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) shoots as Brooklyn Nets forward Royce O’Neale (00) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 27 points apiece to lead the Utah Jazz to a 125-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA on Monday night.

Sexton had his fifth straight 20-point game to help Utah win for the third time in four games. He attacked the rim repeatedly to open things up and it paid off. Sexton made a season-high 12 free throws on 13 attempts — falling one shy of matching his career high for made free throws.

“I just feel like I’m just in a flow right now,” Sexton said. “It feels good. It feels like the ball is popping. It feels like everybody is involved. We’re all involved and it’s fun.”

Horton-Tucker and Sexton also dished out six assists apiece. The duo showed a nice comfort level in finding ways to get the offense flowing at the right times. Utah has won both games they have started together.

“It’s great when guys play in a way that you would envision them playing over a pocket of time,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “It’s even better when they get a night where the numbers show them in a different way that what they’re doing is paying off.”

Lauri Markkanen added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, and Walker Kessler tallied 14 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

Cam Thomas led the Nets with 32 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak against Utah was snapped.

The Nets ended their five-game road swing with four losses, dropping them to .500 overall.

“It’s been a tough road trip for us and hopefully we’ve learned a lot of lessons,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said.

Brooklyn didn’t trail during the second quarter and led for much of the third quarter. Still, the Nets struggled to create any real separation with the Jazz. They never led by more than seven points before Utah finally surged ahead for good.

The Jazz used a 15-2 run late in the third quarter to take an 88-80 lead. Sexton, John Collins and Markkanen fueled the run by knocking down 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions.

Brooklyn drew within 108-101 in the fourth quarter following back-to-back 3s from Thomas. The Jazz refused to yield any further ground. Utah scored on five straight possessions to stop the rally. Horton-Tucker scored back-to-back baskets and then fed Kessler for an alley-oop dunk in that stretch.

Kessler’s basket touched off a 12-0 spurt that put Utah up 120-101 with 2:17 left.

“You give them credit for changing the defense up a little bit during that stretch,” Vaughn said. “We had opportunities to make shots that just didn’t go in for us.”

A commitment to zone defense from the Jazz threw the Nets off balance as the game progressed.

“Today was the first time I’ve seen box-and-one since AAU,” said Thomas, who averaged 26.0 points during Brooklyn’s five-game road swing. “That was different.”

The Jazz shot 10-of-16 from 3-point range in the second half. Utah made only four 3-pointers before halftime, while shooting 22% from the perimeter in that stretch.

NEXT SCHEDULE

Nets: Host the Knicks on Wednesday.



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Jazz: At the Cavaliers on Wednesday.





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