Kanter (23 points, 22 rebounds) leads Jazz in rout
Accustomed to limited minutes off the bench for the Utah Jazz this season, Enes Kanter was stellar in a much bigger role.
Kanter had career highs of 23 points and 22 rebounds in a rare start, helping the Jazz beat the Charlotte Bobcats 98-68 on Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
DeMarre Carroll added a career-high 19 points, while Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans chipped in 14 apiece for the Jazz, who played without Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. It didn't matter against the Bobcats. Utah held a 62-24 edge on the boards and scored around the basket at will.
"It was a really good opportunity," Kanter said. "Big Al was injured. Paul was injured. It was me trying to do my job."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wasn't surprised to see such a strong performance from several role players.
"I see these guys work all the time," Corbin said. "I have a different expectation because we see it and I have a feel for what they can do if they play right."
Byron Mullens had 12 points and Ramon Sessions added 11 for the Bobcats (13-45), who shot under 35 percent from the field and have lost five straight games.
Charlotte never got anything going on offense when it mattered and was held to its lowest point total of the season.
"We thought there would be one shot for 10 points and it doesn't work that way," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "It is possession by possession. We had a lot of good looks in the first quarter and we just could not make a bucket tonight."
Jefferson and Millsap, the top two scorers and rebounders for the Jazz, both sat out with left ankle sprains. Kanter and Derrick Favors started in their absence.
Kanter, the Turkish center, made the most of his chance.
He became the first Jazz player to post at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in regulation since Carlos Boozer scored 21 points and pulled down 20 boards on Jan. 25, 2010, against the Phoenix Suns.
Jefferson was the last Jazz player to reach the 20-20 mark after posting 28 points and 26 rebounds in three overtimes against the Boston Celtics last April 26.
Kanter offered a preview of things to come when he made his first three baskets and pulled down four quick rebounds to push Utah out to an early 9-4 lead. That set the stage for Hayward to spark an even bigger run as the first quarter unfolded.
Hayward hit a pair of free throws, drove for a layup and buried a deep 3-pointer to help the Jazz outscore the Bobcats 10-1 over the final 3:25 of the quarter. It propelled Utah to a 21-9 lead. Charlotte went completely cold during that stretch. The Bobcats missed six straight shots to end the quarter and shot just 4 of 20 (20 percent) in the period.
"I thought we did a much better job than in previous games," Hayward said. "There's still a lot of room for improvement, but we did a good job of moving the game plan. We executed what we wanted to do for the most part and we got to continue to do that."
Utah opened the second quarter with a 16-6 run to take a 37-17 lead. Randy Foye provided the biggest highlight of the run when he made a 3-pointer - his first basket of the game - with 5:09 left before halftime to claim the single-season franchise record for made 3-pointers.
Carroll made three consecutive baskets in the final three minutes of the half, the final one a 3-pointer, to help Utah build a 47-24 halftime lead. It equaled the lowest first-half offensive output of the season for the Bobcats.
Charlotte cut it to 57-42 in the third quarter after a pair of driving layups from Sessions. The Jazz responded with a 9-0 run, capped by Kanter's jumper, to make it 64-42 with 2:24 left in the quarter. Utah pushed it to a game-high 32-point lead when Carroll sank a jumper with 1:19 remaining to make it 96-64.
For the Bobcats, this all feels too familiar after posting the worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history a year ago. Fighting through the mounting losses becomes the task ahead for Charlotte.
"Some of these guys are new, but you just need to keep your head and keep fighting," Mullens said. "You just have to remember it's just a game. Just go out there and have fun. I know it's a job now, but you still have to go out and compete."
NOTES: Charlotte's nine first-quarter points were the fewest scored by any Jazz opponent this season. . Both Foye and Millsap were at the hospital on Thursday as their wives each delivered baby daughters, Pilar Foye and Paular Millsap. . Utah had a 31-7 edge in second-chance points and a 30-2 edge in fast-break points.
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