SALT LAKE CITY — Friday’s game against the Jazz by the Nets was a return to form. Both Royce O’Neale, and Jacque Vaughn, started their playing careers in Utah. O’Neale was traded to the Nets in the offseason. He even received a tribute video before pregame introductions.
O’Neale scored 13 points to beat his old team, 117-106. O’Neal scored nine points quickly in the first quarter, giving the Nets a lead of 24-11.
It was a wonderful feeling to feel all the love and support they gave me. O’Neale said, “I was here for five year, had many great memories here, and to feel that welcome home meant a lot.” O’Neale finished the game with six assists and five rebounds and a plus-10.
Vaughn stated before the game that Royce had been a huge help to us. He has brought joy to the gym every day and maintained a consistent level of play on the floor. He is a guy I love coaching and enjoy being around. You can count on him. He has played many minutes for us in different roles. Sometimes he was a semi-point guard, other times he was a four-man. You can appreciate every bit of it, even a little.
O’Neale played his first five NBA seasons for the Jazz before he was acquired by the Nets as a first-rounder. Vaughn was a teammate of Hall of Fame point-guard John Stockton for his first four seasons (1997-2001).
Nic Claxton scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, which was an impressive plus-29. His four blocks are the most notable. He has now had at least three blocks in each of his 11 games. This tie Shawn Bradley (1996) as the longest Nets stretch.
Kyrie Irving scored 48 points, made eight 3-pointers, had 11 rebounds, and stole four rebounds to tie or surpass season highs.
Vaughn has been changing his rotations to make it possible to play three games in four nights. He also tried to find a good rider to replace Kevin Durant who was out with a right MCL injury.
T.J. Warren, who was only able to play eight minutes at Phoenix the night before, was feeling fresh. This was his shortest game as a Net. He was only able to score five points in 18 minutes of action Friday.
Seth Curry is getting more playing time and averaged 15.8 points in eight January game, shooting 52.7 percent overall. He also shot 48.9 from the 3-point range.
He scored 10 points, and was 2-for-6 from beyond his arc on Friday. He averaged 18.3 points over his three previous games and played a record 36 minutes on Thursday.
Sunday’s game at Golden State will be the first time Seth Curry has faced his big brother Stephen Curry since joining The Nets. Although the Nets’ December 30-point victory over the defending champions at Barclays Center was Seth Curry’s MVP, he was hurt, the two teams are now in very different places.
Curry is the oldest player in the NBA, Durant is fifth, and Irving is 15th. LeBron James, the No. 2 seller on the team list, leads the Lakers. LeBron James, No. 2 seller — leads the Lakers and the Nets are eighth.