Jazz rebound with big win
Charlotte, N.C. » As much as they've struggled with the second game of back-to-back sets in recent seasons, the Jazz had to be grateful to find a game against the Charlotte Bobcats waiting just 24 hours after they were humbled in Atlanta.
In the words of Carlos Boozer: "That wasn't even a loss. That was something extra than that. I mean, it was worse than a loss."
Which, in turn, might have made the Jazz's 110-102 victory over the Bobcats on Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena something bigger than it seemed.
The Jazz left Charlotte with a victory for the first time in four seasons, improved to 10-1 in games following losses and are now 3-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets, equaling their entire victory total from last season in such circumstances.
Most importantly, the Jazz didn't let Friday's loss to the Hawks -- a game in which Deron Williams scored two points, coach Jerry Sloan benched his starters and Utah trailed by 32 points in the third quarter -- carry over on this trip.
"If you stay in a lull, you could lose three or four in a row," Boozer said, "instead of losing that one and moving forward."
"It was one of those games where there was nothing that needed to be said," Williams added. "We just needed to play better than that. I think everybody realized it and just came out more prepared today."
Williams led with 23 points and 10 assists, Boozer totaled 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Jazz shot 53.2 percent even as the two teams combined for 43 turnovers. The Jazz also got a combined 38 points off the bench from C.J. Miles and Paul Millsap.
Miles hit a three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and kept rolling on the way to a 20-point night. Sloan opted to open the second half with Miles starting in place of Wesley Matthews, who didn't get off the bench after the first quarter.
Sloan said he would consider whether to keep Miles in the starting lineup for Monday's game in Orlando. He preferred Miles' size and experience Saturday against the Bobcats' Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace.
"He plays with a lot of confidence when he's on the floor most of the time," Sloan said of Miles. "He's been hurt, so we've been trying to move him along slowly and not too fast. But we needed him to play tonight. Fortunately, he stepped up and did a good job."
"I think I've had some times where I don't allow myself to really get in the flow of the game," Miles added. "I mean, I get open shots here and there, but as far as like the whole game, to be able to play a lot better when you allow yourself to get going like that."
The Jazz scored 54 points in the paint and finished with 31 assists on 41 baskets but also did the little things. Exhibit A: Boozer and Millsap combined for offensive rebounds after three missed Jazz free throws in the third quarter, leading to six points.
"I've always said to guys you should try to at least get one offensive [rebound] free throw every game," Sloan said.
They took an 83-75 lead into the fourth but broke open the game with a 12-2 run for an 18-point lead. Miles hit a 17-footer while he was fouled. Millsap drained a jumper and Williams was lost by Charlotte inside for a layup as part of another three-point play.
The Bobcats made an all-out comback bid behind their trapping defense, but came up short. Wallace had 30 points but missed two free throws with 2:22 left and a chance to make it a six-point game. Millsap followed with a jumper for a 10-point cushion.
After winning a woeful three times in 21 tries in the second game of back-to-back sets last season (including a 1-9 mark on the road), the Jazz are 3-3 this season with victories over San Antonio, Orlando and Charlotte.
"I think it's just bouncing back, being stronger mentally, tougher mentally," Williams said.
In short » The Jazz move on from Friday's loss to the Hawks by beating the Bobcats.