BROOKLYN — As Utah teammates celebrated on the Barclays Center court after the final buzzer Sunday night, a Jazz fan stood up in the stands and unleashed a loud yawn or a primal scream.
Either way, the Jazz gave their supporters — near and far — a reason to roar at the end of a long road trip.
Utah mustered enough energy for a strong finish in New York, after bouncing from Memphis to Boston to Philadelphia, returning home with a 95-88 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The win capped the team’s final long road swing of the season, finishing with a 3-1 record, only one Tyler Zettler layup away from going four for four.
It lifted the surging Jazz to their ninth win in 12 games.
The team’s second consecutive victory pushed the Jazz ahead of last season’s wins total. A year after struggling through a 25-57 reboot year, Utah improved to 26-36 with 20 games still to be played.
“It’s been a good trip,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I told the guys that I feel like every time we’ve gone on a road trip, we’ve gotten a little better.”
A trek that began with an impressive showing in Memphis concluded five nights later with a solid finish in Deron Williams’ home.
Shortly after checking back in for the last stretch — and right after Brook Lopez missed a game-tying free throw — Gordon Hayward hit a key 3-pointer with five minutes remaining to quell a 6-0 Nets run.
“We’ve encouraged him to shoot,” Snyder said. “When people go under on screens, he’s got to shoot that ball.”
Shooting — and making — that deep attempt sparked the Jazz's game-clinching 10-0 run. Not surprisingly, Hayward and Derrick Favors powered that push, combining for nine of the 10 points.
“When Coach puts me back in and the game is close, the mindset is to close the game out,” Hayward said. “And so I got a good look at it and was able to knock it down.
"(Favors) was huge down the stretch," Hayward added. "I think that’s what you need from two of your veteran leaders — to make sure you close out the game the right way.”
Hayward scored a game-high 24 points with five rebounds and three steals. Favors contributed 22 points and eight rebounds.
Rookie Dante Exum had one of his better offensive games — and played well defensively against the physical Williams — to finish with 14 points. Backup point guard Trey Burke added 12 points, turning in one of the multiple effective bench performances (along with Trevor Booker, Elijah Millsap and Rodney Hood).
Not to be overlooked, Utah center Rudy Gobert had a quiet scoring outing with just four points, but the Stifle Tower led the Jazz in rebounding (11), blocked shots (two) and — sacre bleu! — assists (five).
Hayward credited his teammates for hitting more shots in the second half — after a 42-point first half — and for how the Jazz “figured them out a little bit defensively” following the break.
Brooklyn shot the ball well (50 percent), but the Nets became the ninth opponent in 10 games to fail to score more than 88 points against the Jazz’s tight defense.
“I thought Rudy did a much better job in the second half as far as guarding Lopez because he is a load down there,” Hayward said. “Dante was tremendous on Deron Williams, too. We really collectively played well in the second half.”
Williams, who’s been with the Nets for four years since that surprising 2011 blockbuster trade, had six points, five rebounds and four assists with three turnovers in the loss.
Lopez and power forward Thaddeus Young, both inserted into the starting lineup to counter the Jazz’s interior length, scored 19 points apiece to lead Brooklyn. The Nets fell to 25-36 and are now 2-1/2 games out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
While scattered vocal Jazz fans soaked in the win, Nets fans weren’t so kind to the inconsistent home team. There were some boos from the crowd and one upset Brooklyn fan even yelled, “Trade Williams!”
“We’ve underperformed,” said Lopez, whose Nets blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead at home against Phoenix in an overtime loss Friday. “They (fans) expect better from us and have high expectations and we need to meet those. And I think we ourselves, in this locker room, have even higher expectations.”
Same could be said of the surging Jazz, who begin their longest homestand of the season (five games) Tuesday night against the Derek Fisher-coached New York Knicks.
“We still had too many turnovers tonight,” said Burke of the Jazz, who finished with 18 urnovers. “I think our defense helped the offense a lot.”