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New year, same Nets: Utah defeats Brooklyn, 101-89, in Joe Johnson’s return

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Goodbye 2016. Hello 2017. With the New Year means a new Nets… right?

Not quite.

After a miserable loss in Washington, the Nets held a players-only meeting in effort to turn things around. The bickering, the lackadaisical efforts, and quite simply, the poor losses this season. The energy was different from the start, one that included a positive, cohesive defensive effort.

Still, a horrid fourth quarter did them in (again) and the Utah Jazz (22-13) defeated the Brooklyn Nets (8-25), 101-89, Monday night at Barclays Center. Joe Johnson hit the clutch dagger 3-pointer in his return to Brooklyn. What else did you expect from Joe?

With the loss, the Nets snapped their four-year streak of winning the first game of the New Year.

It was an even game through three quarters, mostly controlled by the Nets, but the fourth quarter once again brought the worst out of them. They were outscored 31-19 and scored just 37 points in the second half.

The Nets came out with more energy against a very tough Utah Jazz team. The first half was all Trevor Booker – a former Utah Jazz looking to make a statement and help lead his new team in Brooklyn. He had a double double in the opening half with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as the Nets led 52-50.

Booker finished the night with 17 points and 15 rebounds, his 11th double double of the season. Kenny Atkinson described it as "typical Trevor" after the game.

The lead, however, wasn’t secure and we know how these third quarter Nets can be. That wasn’t the case on Monday, though. Instead, the Nets and Jazz stayed even with each other heading into the fourth, tied at 70 apiece.

The eight-win Nets were shocking and rocking the Barclays Center. Fans were loud and cheery for the underdogs giving it their all. It was refreshing, especially after so much negativity the last couple of days.

Then, things went from cheery to dreary following a 9-0 Utah run, which gave them an 11-point lead with less than six minutes remaining. The Nets missed six of their first nine shots in the quarter, while Utah hit eight of their first 12.

Gordon Hayward scorched the Nets and scored 17 of his 30 in the second half. He put the Jazz up by eight and then assisted on the dagger 3-pointer to Joe Johnson with 1:41 remaining..

The Nets shot just 42 percent and had more turnovers (15) than assists (13). Isaiah Whitehead, the starting point guard, didn't record his first assist of the night until late in the fourth.

Brook Lopez scored 14, Whitehead chipped in with 12 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 11.

In the previous 10 games, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has averaged 10.6 points (47.4%) and 4.7 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. "I'm just staying focused, coming out aggressive and giving my team what I can do while I'm out there. I just try to control what I can control at the end of the day," Hollis-Jefferson said of his play the last few games.

Brook Lopez, however, was feeling a bit different about his performance.

"I just got to say I'm very disappointed in myself," Lopez said. "I didn't play at the level that I think I needed to, & I think I hurt the team."

Lin addresses the media

No timetable on him, as expected, but he appears to be in good spirits.

You can check out video and more here.

Nets honor ‘Joe Jesus’

Prior to the game, the Brooklyn Nets gave Joe Johnson a video tribute for his 3.5 seasons with the team. Johnson made his first appearance at Barclays Center since the Nets waived him on February 25.

As you can tell he was very emotional about the video (sarcasm font). Anyway, thank you for the memories, Joe.

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Next up: Indiana on Thursday.