If anything showed James Harden’s value to Brooklyn, it was the team’s performance against the Jazz without him.
In a game that was over practically from the start, the Nets recorded their most lopsided loss of the season in a 118-88 result against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. The Nets trailed by as many as 38 points in the rout.
Brooklyn’s bench players got plenty of opportunities to pad their stats as Harden was out due to a sore neck and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are away from the team. Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan also saw reduced playing time with the two combining for 17 total minutes.
The Nets put up little resistance to the NBA-best Jazz as Utah out-scored them 38-17 in the first quarter and did not look back. The Jazz shot 45.1% from the field and a scorching 23-of-55 from three, while Brooklyn, on the second half of a back-to-back, looked tired on offense as they shot just 36.1% from the field and 7-of-35 from three.
Alize Johnson putting on a show i his Nets debut. Johnson has an 18-point, 15-rebound double-double midway through the fourth quarter. pic.twitter.com/5qyIMkp1v0
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 25, 2021
The leading scorer — and biggest surprise — of the night for Brooklyn was new Net Alize Johnson, who impressed with a double-double in 33 minutes. Despite just meeting his new team this morning, Alize played with confidence and made a good case for him to potentially make the roster going forward.
With the game out of hand early, Steve Nash had the opportunity to test out some interesting lineups. The Nets used Alize to go extra big, using him in a lineup alongside DeAndre Jordan, Nic Claxton, Reggie Perry and Chris Chiozza at guard.
That lineup brought a bit of fun, including a Claxton three-pointer, but that was about as thrilling as the evening got for Brooklyn. The Nets showed some life at the start of the second quarter and cut the deficit to as little as 12, but the Jazz answered and built their lead back up to 26 at halftime — and it only grew from there.
Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah with 27 points while Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 apiece. Rudy Gobert was dominant defensively and grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with eight points.
Not much was expected out of Brooklyn against the Jazz without the Big Three, and there is not much to take away from it. The game ended up providing more opportunities for players to get some much-needed rest. The Nets did outscore the Jazz in the paint 50-30, but otherwise, Alize made a great first impression while Chris Chiozza, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown and Reggie Perry were the only other Nets to reach double figures in points.
Onto the next one, where Blake Griffin will be back in the lineup but Harden is still questionable as of now. A meeting with the Detroit Pistons awaits the Nets on Friday.
Alize Johnson Power Forward
23 PTS, 11-15 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-1 FT, 15 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 33 MIN
What a Nets debut for Alize Johnson.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 25, 2021
Fresh off signing a 10-day contract with the Nets, Alize gave his all with minimal familiarity with the Nets’ offensive schemes. He was aggressive in the paint and came up big on the boards while truly coming alive in the second half.
Alize showed he could be a good fit in Brooklyn’s rotation going forward as an energetic big who can work off the bench. There were not many positives to take from Wednesday’s game, but Alize’s performance was at the top of the list.
Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot Shooting Guard
14 PTS, 5-17 FG, 2-9 3PT, 2-3 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 4 TO, 34 MIN
TLC was one of Brooklyn’s lone other options on offense outside of Alize.
And-1 💪 pic.twitter.com/9NL2yAf9kN
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 25, 2021
After a positive performance on Tuesday, TLC used his extended minutes to continue to get to the rim. Though he could not get his three-pointer to drop, he remained aggressive while playing in some new lineups.
TLC was a bit careless with the ball with a team-high four turnovers, which gave the Jazz even more opportunities. More for him to work on going forward.
Reggie Perry Center
12 PTS, 4-9 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2-2 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 28 MIN
We have not seen much of Reggie Perry after he spent time in the G League, but he played well on Wednesday.
Perry has shown great energy since returning and nearly recorded a double-double against the Jazz. In fact, he was one of two Nets who had a positive plus-minus on the night with a plus-8 (Chiozza is the other).
Perry was part of the lineup that went on a run early in the second quarter and provided good defense in his minutes. His minutes will likely diminish as Griffin and KD return, but it seems his time in the G League bubble did his game well.
Chris Chiozza Point Guard
10 PTS, 4-16 FG, 2-9 3PT, 11 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 28 MIN
Chris Chiozza’s step-back three was not falling but he helped fill the void of Harden in the play-making role.
Chiozza put in strong minutes at point guard with just one turnover committed against his 11 assists. He could not get his own shot going, but he emerged as a court leader with a plus-8 for the game.
He may just want to limit his step-back three-point attempts, as they seemed to happen in every other play in the first half.
Bruce Brown Shooting Guard
10 PTS, 4-11 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-3 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 34 MIN
Bruce played the most minutes out of all the Nets and finished as a minus-42 in the process.
Just like most of the team, it was difficult for Bruce to break through against the Jazz. He did manage to nearly record a double-double while having some good moments on defense.
Any night matched up against Donovan Mitchell will be a tough one, but Bruce did what he could to give Brooklyn some familiarity in an ever-changing lineup.