Utah Jazz round-up: First quarter play determines game outcome

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The Utah Jazz (10-11) put points on the board early to beat the New York Knicks at home but failed to do so in losses to the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Utah lost 106-103 to Sacramento on Tuesday, Dec. 8, blew out the Knicks 106-85 on Wednesday, Dec. 9 and lost 94-90 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Dec. 11.

The Jazz trailed 30-14 in the first quarter but whittled the lead down to one in the third quarter in the Kings’ 106-103 victory. Sacramento was very efficient, shooting 55.8 percent from the field to Utah’s 41.3 percent.

“When you dig yourself that kind of hole, the game becomes difficult,” head coach Quin Snyder said in a press release. “At that point, any breakdowns or missed shots or breaks that don’t go your way become very difficult to overcome.”

Forward Gordon Hayward and guard Alec Burks scored 18 points each, with eight and four rebounds, respectively. Center Derrick Favors also posted good numbers with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Utah rebounded well the next game, dominating the New York Knicks 106-85. Hayward hit two back-to-back 3-pointers on the Jazz’s first two possessions and the team never looked back. He scored 24 points in 24 minutes, making this the fourth time in five games that he’s scored 20 points or more.

“I think (Gordon)’s making the right reads and, as a result, he’s playing with a lot of certainty,” Snyder said. “It’s instinctive, and I think that’s why you’re seeing him shoot the ball with such confidence.” 

The Jazz led 60-35 at halftime and shot an impressive 48.8 percent from the field and made 82.6 percent of its free throw attempts. Favors had 20 points and eight rebounds while two players scored double-digits off the bench as Trey Burke scored 15 points and Alec Burks had 10.

Rodney Hood was ejected with three minutes left in the game for throwing a shoulder into Knicks player Sasha Vujacic.

Utah again fell early in the first quarter in a hard-fought 94-90 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder led 27-15 at the end of the first quarter after the Jazz shot just five-of-20 from the field and made one-of-eight 3-point attempts. The Jazz came back on a 10-1 run late in the third quarter, closing the gap to 70-65. Utah tied the game 87-87 with 1:23 left in the game after Burke and Hood nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and Booker dunked the ball.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant responded with a 3-pointer, a jumper and two free throws to give Oklahoma City the edge. Eleven of Durant’s 21 points came in the fourth quarter and he also recorded eight rebounds. Guard Russell Westbrook added 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Hayward led the Jazz with 19 points and eight rebounds. He also scored the Jazz’s first seven points of the game. Burke contributed 16 points off the bench while Burks and Favors had 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The Jazz will play four games next week — a two-game road trip followed by two home games. Utah continues its home-and-home series with Oklahoma City on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. MST and then will travel to play the San Antonio Spurs the following day on Monday, Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. MST. The team then returns home to host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Dec. 9 followed by the Denver Nuggets on Friday, Dec. 18. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. MST for both home games.

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