Australian teenager Dante Exum has combined his first NBA victory with his best performance as his Utah Jazz defeated the Phoenix Suns 118-91 in Salt Lake City.
The No.5 draft pick scored 10 points on three of four shooting beyond the arc in 18 minutes of court time on Saturday night.
Exum felt the improved performance by the Jazz was all about rising confidence levels and the team trusting each other after opening the season with two losses.
“We knew we could go out there and win,” Exum said.
“There’s been a big thing about trusting each other and we came in and did that better. I think that’s what got us the win tonight.”
Exum’s own improved performance was a case of backing his instincts and knowing he has a license to shoot.
“When the ball comes to me it’s about getting it up, not thinking about it and letting it fly, I felt comfortable,” he said.
While Exum had a breakout night, so did Utah forward Derrick Favors. His size and strength troubling the Suns as he dominated in the post, scoring 32 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Exum was full of praise for the starter.
“Everyone knows ‘Fave’ can do that, we just need to feed the animal,” he said.
“He’s a great player, it’s just about getting the ball into him and letting him go to work.”
Exum was right in the thick of things, at one point having a verbal altercation with referee Joey Crawford over what the Aussie thought was a charging foul.
“I got elbowed in the face, so there was a little bit of blood on my nose,” Exum said.
“I told him (Crawford) that maybe it’s there because I got elbowed in the face… he laughed.”
While the Jazz recorded an upset win, it was smooth sailing for a lot of NBA heavyweights with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City and Washington Wizards all recording wins along with Andrew Bogut’s Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors punishing the Kobe Bryant-led L.A. Lakers 127-104 as ‘Splash Brothers’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 72 points.
Bogut chimed in with six points and 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile Miami continued to show there can be life after LeBron James.
Early days it may be, but they were impressive in downing lowly Philadelphia 114-96, Chris Bosh leading the way with 30 points and eight rebounds.
In other games, Toronto accounted for Orlando, Brooklyn beat Detroit and Atlanta held off Indiana.