SALT LAKE CITY — The weariness of a season-high eight-game road trip began to show Friday night in the Nets’ 112-97 loss to the Jazz.
Quincy Acy had a season-high 18 points in 18 minutes off the bench, but Brook Lopez was the only Nets starter in double figures with 17 as the Nets lost for the third time in the first four games of the trip and fell to 10-50.
The Jazz took a 38-26 lead after the first quarter. “They had an urgency from the get-go,” Lopez said of playoff-bound Utah. “I think we responded for a little bit. They did a great job of doing what they do defensively and they executed the heck out of us repeatedly.”
Jeremy Lin was limited to seven points in 17 minutes in his fourth game back from an injured left hamstring, and the Nets failed to continue any momentum from Wednesday night’s win at Sacramento, which ended their losing streak at 16. Friday night’s loss was their 28th in the last 30 games.
Lin was limited by second-half foul trouble. He picked up fouls three and four less than four minutes into the second half and was held to single digits in scoring for the third time in his four games back from injury.
Lin spent more time working on his perimeter shot before the game than he actually played Friday night. He was the last Net on the floor an hour before tipoff, working to get his legs under him and improve his jumper. Then he shot 3-for-7 with two assists and three turnovers.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson feared before the game that Lin’s matchup with Jazz point guard George Hill would be a tough one. He proved prophetic. Hill led five Utah players in double figures with 34 points and seven assists. Derrick Favors added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz (38-24).
“George Hill was fantastic,” Atkinson said. “We just didn’t have the requisite energy, the requisite juice to compete with them tonight.
“He controlled the game. He’s crafty and he knows how to bait you into fouls. That was one of our keys, keeping him off the free-throw line.”
Nets forward Trevor Booker played an inspired 25 minutes against the team with which he spent the previous two seasons. He had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Booker and the rest of the bench helped keep the Nets close in the first half. The reserves scored 22 of the Nets’ first 40 points and finished the night with a 56-24 advantage over the Jazz bench.
“Quincy came in and did a good job,” Lin said. “I think Isaiah [Whitehead] had good energy. Sean [Kilpatrick] had good energy. But I felt like our starters didn’t have the juice, and it started right from the get-go. We’re going to fill our cups up and get after it [Saturday night against Portland].’’
Lin’s night was a slight step backward. He had 17 points in 20 minutes against Sacramento, up from the 15 minutes he played in each of his first two games.
Atkinson said before the game that the Nets have no interest in pushing Lin too hard, too fast in the final 22 games. Clearly it’s a wise choice, given their spot at the bottom of the league standings.
“We’re going to gradually increase him,” Atkinson said. “We’ll get the information from our performance team and doctors. We’re not going to rush this thing. We’re going to do it gradually.”
Gradually fade is what the Nets did Friday night. A nine-point halftime deficit became an 18-point hole by the end of the third quarter. They were held to fewer than 100 points for only the third time in their past nine games.
The Nets’ Joe Harris left the game in the second quarter and was evaluated for a concussion. He had two points in 10 minutes and did not return in the second half.