January 16, 2021
Business SportsMoney

Kyrie Irving Scores 29, Sparks Brooklyn Nets’ Blowout Win Over Utah Jazz Without Kevin Durant

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Kyrie Irving

Without Kevin Durant in the Brooklyn Nets’ lineup, Kyrie Irving more than set the tone in a huge win … [+] over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

ASSOCIATED PRESS

With Kevin Durant out, the Brooklyn Nets struggling at 3-4 and a reconfigured starting lineup inserted by head coach Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving was simply sensational in Tuesday’s 130-96 win over the Utah Jazz.

Superstars step up in times of need, and Irving delivered with 29 points, six rebounds and five assists on 12-of-19 shooting. He also had three steals and looked motivated and determined to lead a reeling Nets team that was missing its best player.

With Bruce Brown, Jeff Green and Jarrett Allen joining Kyrie and Taurean Prince in the starting five, Brooklyn was suffering on the defensive end and was looking to shake things up after losing four of its last five games to dip under .500.

Irving made sure to set the tone right away and delivered a first round knockout for the Nets.

In 10 minutes and seven seconds of the first quarter, Irving scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting. Brooklyn took leads of 20-4 and 28-7 before ending the frame up 35-14, a lead Utah would never recover from. His scoring output was the most a Nets player has scored in any quarter this season.

Irving was hustling on both ends and enthusiastically finding teammates in transition like Allen, who had 19 points, 18 rebounds, a career-high three steals and two blocks as regular starter DeAndre Jordan was plagued with foul trouble from the get-go.

Allen did a tremendous job defensively on Rudy Gobert, more than making the most of his opportunity in his first start of the season. Gobert was held to 10 points and 11 rebounds on 3-of-10 shooting, with Allen swatting and altering a few of the Stifle Tower’s shots.

By halftime, Irving had 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals as Brooklyn led Utah 63-44. With Brooklyn comfortably ahead and Kyrie’s work essentially done, Caris LeVert got to take more control of the offense later in the third quarter and rewarded the Nets with a 12-point quarter on 5-for-7 shooting. He finished with a season-high 24.

Utah came into the game first in the league in rebounding, first in offensive rebounding percentage and 5th in defensive rebounding percentage. Nash knew this has been a problem for the Nets, which entered the matchup dead last in defensive rebound percentage.

“It’s a weakness of our team. We all know it,” Nash said before the game. “We just have to be tough and physical and have that desire and will to try to compete.”

Allen and the Nets made sure Brooklyn would’ve be deficient in this area on Tuesday, and the Nets ended up with a decisive 51-42 edge. Utah shot 38.8% from the field and 32.4% from three, as Brooklyn easily had its best defensive effort of the season.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting. Jordan Clarkson scored 12 and Gobert and Royce O’Neale each had 10.

With Durant out at least the next three games, Brooklyn needed a spark in a huge way going into games against Utah and the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers. Irving’s inspired effort and Nash’s lineup change paid major dividends. On a night the Nets desperately searched for any kind spark, Kyrie Irving delivered early and often to bring Brooklyn’s record to 4-4.