Kanter dominates Bobcats as Jazz snap losing skid

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz were missing their top two scorers and leading big men Friday night.
Nobody would guess that by looking at the final score of their game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Center Enes Kanter scored 23 points and grabbed 22 rebounds as the short-handed Jazz crushed the Bobcats 98-68 at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz improved to 32-27 and snapped a three-game losing streak despite playing without injured starters Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
"It's just great for all the guys. It's great for us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It's just a tremendous feeling to see the guys get a chance to get more time on the floor and then have success in a game like tonight."
Byron Mullens scored 12 points and Ramon Sessions had 11 points, but they were the only Bobcat players to reach double figures as Charlotte (13-45) lost its fifth consecutive game.
Jefferson and Millsap sat out with sprained ankle injuries, marking the first time in three years that both Jazz cornerstone players missed the same game.
Thanks to Kanter and the Jazz's youth, it didn't matter.
Though starting for only the second time, the 20-year-old Kanter became the first player in three years to post a 20-20 game in regulation. The second-year big man set career-highs in points and rebounds while hitting 10 of 12 shots.
Carlos Boozer was the last player in the Jazz organization to hit the 20-20 mark in regulation, totaling 21 points and 20 boards against Phoenix on Jan. 25, 2010.
"We'll get on him about the five turnovers that he had, but he played a great game," Corbin said with a smile. "He was big inside. He made some great moves in the post. He came across and helped out on the defensive side."
The Jazz used their 11th starting lineup of the season and fourth different one in four consecutive games, with Kanter playing a career-high 44 minutes in Jefferson's spot.
Derrick Favors added eight points and seven rebounds in Millsap's usual power forward position.
The Jazz bench went wild in this one, with DeMarre Carroll leading the way with a career-high 19 points despite playing with a bruised left knee.
Jeremy Evans, the rarely used 2012 NBA Dunk Champ, tied career-highs with 14 points and nine rebounds in 26 reserve minutes.
Gordon Hayward continued his stellar play since returning from a shoulder injury, scoring 14 points with four rebounds and four assists. Second-year guard Alec Burks added 10 points as the youthful bench had 57 points.
"They killed us in every stat line," said Mullens, whose Bobcats were outrebounded, 62-24. "Obviously, Kanter had a good game, stepped up in the starting position with Jefferson and Millsap out. They just had it from the start."
While the Jazz thrived, the Bobcats struggled mightily. Charlotte scored only nine points in the first quarter, falling behind by 12 during its lowest-scoring quarter of the season.
The Bobcats' point total was their lowest of the season, coming in a point worse than a 114-69 loss to Oklahoma City on Nov. 26.
Charlotte shot only 34.6 percent and scored just 24 points in the first half.
"Well, we couldn't make anything tonight," Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said. "Really, we had a lot of good looks in the first quarter and we just could not make a bucket."
The Jazz aren't sure whether they'll have Jefferson or Millsap ready for their four-game Eastern road trip, which begins Monday in Milwaukee.
If Kanter plays like he did, it might not matter.
"I wasn't expecting a 20-20 game. It was my second time in the starting five," Kanter said. "The first time (in December), Al helped me a lot. He just said if you're starting games to go out and be yourself, and I did."
NOTES: Millsap and Randy Foye both had the same excuse to miss Thursday's practice. Their significant others both delivered baby girls. That wasn't the only coincidence. Foye named his third daughter Pilar, while Millsap named his third girl Paular. "Same day, same name. It's crazy," Millsap said with a laugh. "What a coincidence, really." ... Carroll played a day after an MRI revealed that his ailing left knee has a bone bruise and patellar tendinitis. ... The Bobcats have lost at least five times in a row for the fourth time this season. ... Foye set the Jazz single-season record for 3-pointers with his 130th of the year in the first half. Mehmet Okur set the previous record of 129 in 2006-07. ... Jazz guard Raja Bell, who played for the Bobcats from 2008-10, did not accept a buyout from Utah. He had to do that by Friday in order to be eligible to sign and play with another team in the postseason.

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