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Rookies Elijah Millsap, Rodney Hood silver linings in a loss to Lakers

SALT LAKE CITY — For as well as this community knows his brother, it’s probably not a big surprise that Elijah Millsap wasn’t celebrating a personal accomplishment Wednesday night.

“I don’t care about numbers,” Millsap said. “I just care about wins.”

In other words, Millsap, sounding like his older brother Paul, wasn’t bouncing around the Jazz locker room after having notched an NBA-high 17 points to go with seven rebounds.

He was more concerned about these numbers: 100-97.

That was the final score, and it was in the Los Angeles Lakers’ favor.

In 30 minutes, Millsap did what he could to make the opposite happen for the Jazz.

As usual, the 27-year-old rookie was a defensive pest, but he added some offense to his repertoire in this one, hitting 5-of-8 shots off the bench.

“Our top guys do a lot for us, so some games they will be tired,” Millsap said. “We didn’t have a lot of juice, so I was just trying to be assertive.”

It showed.

The Jazz also got a nice boost off the bench from another rookie: Rodney Hood.

The 22-year-old rookie, three games back from his prolonged injury absence, scored 11 points. Most impressively, the former Duke sharpshooter hit 3-of-4 from deep, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter.

“It’s good to see him back. Everybody knows what he’s been through this season,” Millsap said of Hood, who has missed 29 games with foot injuries. “(So) to work as hard as he has worked to get back and to come out there and hit the big shots he did tonight was impressive.”

Hood had a common response to multiple questions in the locker room after his best game in some time.

How did his feet feel? How about hitting that 3-pointer at the end of the third to nearly make the crowd go into a delirium? His stamina after playing nearly 20 minutes?

“It felt good,” he said.

And said.

And said again.

Looked good, too.

“It felt good. I got winded at times, but it wasn’t horrible,” Hood said. “I wish I would’ve made a couple of more plays and not given into fatigue, but for the most part it was good.”

In all, the Jazz used four rookies in this game, including starters Dante Exum and Joe Ingles. They have three more on the roster: Grant Jerrett, Jack Cooley and Bryce Cotton.

“It was good to see all of those guys,” Snyder said. “It’s good to see Rodney healthy. Elijah played with a lot of toughness. He was aggressive. He attacked. You could feel it. You could feel him in the game.”

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