The Brooklyn Nets used a 21-point loss at Orlando on Sunday as motivation for making some changes. In practice Monday, they stressed getting the ball inside and limiting the opponent's opportunities in the paint.
The message stuck.
Brook Lopez scored a game-high 27-points and Deron Williams added 10 points and eight assists to help the Nets end a four-game losing streak to the Utah Jazz with a 104-88 win on Tuesday night.
"I think my guys just found me in good positions and I just tried to catch it and finish strong", Lopez said. "We, I think in general, just did a good job attacking the basket and playing inside and then out."
The All-Star center got it going in the first quarter as Brooklyn set the tone inside the paint with Lopez scoring 10 of his 11 points down low.
Sunday night against the Magic, the Nets managed just 26 points in the paint, going 13 for 33 near the rim while giving up 42 points (21 for 38) in the opposite end of the court.
They reversed that two days later. Brooklyn scored 58 points in the paint and shot 20 for 32 from the free throw line while limiting the struggling Jazz to 13 for 33 shooting in the paint, good for 26 points.
"I think as a team that's what we talked about yesterday. When we looked, you know we were kind of a jumping shooting team (in Orlando)," Lopez said. "Yesterday's practice was, the only way you could score was by getting the ball in the paint and the drills and the things that we did. The focus carried over to tonight."
There were several firsts for Brooklyn, who beat the Jazz for the first time since January 2011. Williams got his first victory over the team that traded him to the Nets in February 2011, and it was first-year coach Jason Kidd's first regular-season game on their home court. He missed the home-opening win over Miami because of a two-game suspension.
Joe Johnson had 12 points for the Nets, and Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston each had 11.
The Nets certainly weren't too happy with their showing against Orlando, feeling that they let their coach down by denying him his first win of the season — despite being credited with the win over the Heat. The team decided to reward Kidd with the game ball following this win.
"It was great considering the fact that we just kind of wet the bed in Orlando and couldn't get him his first win, so to speak. To get it here in Brooklyn it was probably even better," Johnson said.
Gordon Hayward led Utah with 22 points.
Utah coach Tyronne Corbin felt like his team needed to "count on each other more" as the team lost its fourth straight game to open the season. They had lost their first three games by an average of 3.6 points.
It's Utah's worst start since the 1979-80 season when the team relocated from New Orleans and Adrian Dantley starred for the team. Knee problems limited Pistol Pete Maravich to just 17 games and he later was waived.
"Losing hurts. It should hurt," Corbin said. "It's four straight loses in the first four straight games. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We have to come to fight and keep working and try to get better and win a game too and feel better about ourselves."
They'll have a chance to do so when they face off against the Boston Celtics, who also happen to be searching for their first win of the season at 0-4.
Enes Kanter added 21 and rookie Alec Burks chipped in 13 points. Utah shot just 31 for 82.
Brooklyn opened the game on a 12-2 run. Lopez scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half to give the Nets a 54-38 lead heading into the third quarter.
The Nets led a few times by as many as 26 points, and the entire starting lineup sat on the bench all of the fourth quarter.
Williams, who has been hampered by a sprained ankle and was limited to 10 minutes during the preseason, was able to show flashes of the player that led the organization to trade a package of draft picks and former first-rounder Derrick Favors for him.
With 4:42 in the third quarter, Williams dribbled in from the top of the key and drove to his right, toward the basket, and then let an underhand shot float toward the rim as he faded away.
"It was good to finally beat them. It's a rebuilding year for them but I'm definitely happy to beat them," Williams said.
NOTES: Utah's Jefferson, who averaged 17.4 and 5.4 boards during his eight years with the Nets to start his NBA career praised Kidd for getting the job with their old team. He scored just two points in the loss. Jefferson joked with his ex-teammate, asking him how many suits he had to buy. "In all seriousness though, I think he is going to do a good job. I think he has a great group of guys on that far side that are going to some great things" ... Brooklyn is now 2-0 at home while losing both of its games on the road, at Cleveland and Orlando.