Turkish big man Enes Kanter hasn’t gotten many minutes this season for the Utah Jazz, so when he was plugged into the starting lineup at the last minute for Friday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats he made the most of the rare opportunity.
Kanter, who is playing in his second season for Utah since being drafted third overall in 2011, is averaging just 6.7 points per game this season, but he enjoyed a career-best performance against the Bobcats by scoring 23 points and collecting 22 rebounds in the 98-68 Utah home victory. He was forced to step up after Utah’s two leading rebounders – Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap – were both ruled out before the game due to injury.
“It was a really good opportunity,” Kanter said, according to ESPN.com. “Big Al was injured. Paul was injured. It was me trying to do my job.”
Kanter became the first Jazz player to post a 20-20 performance since Jefferson did it back on April 26 of last year.
The game was never in doubt as Kanter helped lead the Jazz to a 21-9 lead after the first quarter and then to a 62-24 lead at one point early in the second half.
The Bobcats – currently in last place in the entire NBA – saw their record sink a bit deeper to 13-45, which is still already six more wins than all of last season.
Meanwhile, the win snapped a three-game skid for Utah, who is still in seventh position in the Western Conference. They’ll look to keep things going in the right direction on Monday when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. And maybe we’ll see Kanter in a bigger role after his impressive showing on Friday night.