For the most part, the bickering that divided the Nets in their previous game stopped, but their frustration continued to mount Monday night at Barclays Center. The Nets wasted a strong defensive effort, allowing Utah to put together a dominant fourth quarter in its 101-89 victory.
The Nets led by nine midway through the third quarter, but with the score tied entering the fourth quarter, Utah opened the period with a 19-8 run, including eight points by Rodney Hood, for an 89-78 lead. The Jazz scored on nine of its first 11 possessions of the fourth quarter.
A dunk by Brook Lopez cut the Nets’ deficit to 91-86, but they couldn’t get over the hump. The Jazz outscored them 31-19 in the final period while shooting 63.6 from the field, and the Nets went 1-for-15 from three-point range in the second half.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson traced his team’s problems to a 17-5 Utah run near the end of the third quarter that briefly turned his team’s nine-point lead into a 70-67 deficit.
“It started at the end of the third,” Atkinson said. “They got momentum and carried it into the fourth quarter. I was proud of our team’s defensive effort. We really got after it. We were physical like we asked the players to be. I thought they really responded.
“Our offense wasn’t great . . . I am sure we will look at it and say, ‘Man, we could have shared it a little better. We could have made the extra pass.’ ”
Gordon Hayward led Utah (22-13) with 30 points and the Jazz got 15 points each from 7-1 center Rudy Gobert (plus 16 rebounds and three blocks), Rodney Hood and Shelvin Mack.
Trevor Booker topped the Nets (8-25), who lost for the eighth time in their past nine games, with 17 points and 15 rebounds against his former team. Lopez added 14 points and Isaiah Whitehead had 12.
After a 23-point blowout loss in Washington in the previous game, Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick said his teammates bickered throughout that game and “did not play like a team at all.”
There was a players-only meeting to address that situation, and the Nets’ defensive effort against the Jazz was an indication of their determination.
“We did a great job, especially defensively,” Kilpatrick said. “We played together. It was a step forward.”
Lopez tried to carry the Nets, but it was difficult going against Gobert. Lopez expressed disappointment in himself, saying he “hurt the team,” but he was pleased with the team spirit.
“You can’t fault our effort and the way we played for the most part,” he said. “I think we absolutely had each other’s backs and we were there for one another. Our defense definitely gave us a shot.”