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Nets try to avoid another loss vs Jazz

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing new around these parts. The Nets played host to the Cleveland Cavaliers two days after Cleveland got embarrassed by the Warriors at home. The Cavs were able to bounce back and came away with an easy 91-78 win. It's cold and getting colder in Brooklyn.

The opponent this evening will be the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are very close to the eighth seed, but are coming off an overtime loss to the Knicks in MSG on Wednesday night. They've lost their last two games and both of them were in overtime. This is the first leg of a back-to-back for the Jazz. After this, they're traveling down to Washington DC to play the Wizards. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but a big snowstorm is expected to hit the East Coast this weekend and has already made traffic hectic in DC. Those are the breaks I suppose.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (but not in  New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut unless you have FIOS, Direct TV, etc.), WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip after 7:30.

Injuries

Chris McCullogh is still out of action, but has been making progress and is close to making his NBA debut.  Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and he should return around the All-Star Break.

Derrick Favors has been out since December 23 with a back injury and it doesn't appear as if he'll be playing tonight.

The game

Check the numbers

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Utah

Record

11-32 18-24

Pace

96.97 93.27

Offensive Efficiency

97.8 102.6

Defensive Efficiency

105.7 103.5

Turnover Rate

15.5 15.7

Assist Rate

16.4 14.6

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.2 26.6

Rebound Rate

50 50.8

Free Throw Rate

22.4 29.4

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.7 49.2

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.1 50.1

As the game progresses, the Nets get worse. The Nets efficiency differential decreases each quarter and in fourth quarters, they've been outscored by 12 points per 100 possessions, worst in the NBA. If you go on one big run against the Nets, you've essentially put the game out of reach. Brooklyn isn't capable of generating enough offense or getting stops to keep games close. Getting the most out of this roster proved to be an impossible task for Lionel Hollins, and it looks as if that will be the case for Tony Brown as well.

It feels hard to believe, but Gordon Hayward has been in the league six years. The former Butler Bulldog has seen his role on offense increase each season and is currently averaging a career best 19.8 points per game. His shooting percentages are down some, but he's made up for it by attempting a career high in three pointers and cutting down on his turnovers. With Hayward, Favors, Rudy Gobert (more on him in a second), and Dante Exum when he returns from his ACL injury next season is a great core and depending on how things shake out across the Conference in free agency, could have them competing for a good seed in the playoffs.

Wednesday's game was one of the rare clunkers for Joe Johnson this month. He only made one shot in 31 minutes and didn't have an answer for LeBron James. Despite that bad showing, he's shot 50 percent from the field and 52 percent from three point range this month. Hayward likes to drive to the basket and Johnson is a poor defender at this point so look for Utah to go at him early and often.

Player to watch: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert has developed into one of the better big men in the NBA. He's second in the league in blocks per game and is one of the best rebounders in the league. Offensively, he's pretty limited as all of his offense comes from close to the basket, but he does well in converting his opportunities and is an excellent finisher in the pick and roll. He missed all of December with a knee injury and returned on January seventh against the Rockets. He's appeared in every game since returning and played 42 minutes on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for Rudy, he was on the receiving end of the Dunk of the Year...

Can't win em all. He'll be guarding Brook Lopez tonight. It doesn't feel like it when you watch the Nets, but Lopez is actually 15th in the entire NBA in shot attempts. For long stretches (especially in the fourth quarter), Lopez isn't fed the ball on offense as the Nets fall out of games. Lopez is shooting 48 percent when he's in the low post and Gobert is holding opponents to only 37.9 percent when they post up against him. Gobert's played 85 minutes across the two overtime games this week and with the back-to-back on Saturday and his recent return from injury, maybe he'll see a slight drop in minutes for this evening.

From the Vault

ESPN did a feature recently where they ranked the greatest players of all time by position. At the power forward, Karl Malone came in second to Tim Duncan. He played against Duncan's Spurs in the 1998 Playoffs and had one of the better games of his career.

More reading: SLC Dunk