The wait for Paul Millsap has been going on 31/2 seasons, compared to two weeks for Sundiata Gaines. Neither one, though, needed to be reminded about seizing the opportunity Friday with the Jazz missing Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams.
Millsap matched his career-high with 32 points, plus 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Gaines posted 12 points, three steals and played the entire fourth quarter in a 101-94 you-gotta-love-it-baby victory over the Sacramento Kings.
It was a feel-good night all around at EnergySolutions Arena as the Jazz raised a banner in honor of longtime broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley and extended their current winning streak to a season-best five games, while improving to 9-1 in their last 10.
Millsap scored 22 points in the second half, offering both a flashback to last season -- when he posted 19 consecutive double-doubles starting in place of Boozer -- as well as possibly a glimpse of the future should Boozer head elsewhere.
"It was just me playing basketball, that's what it is," Millsap said. "I wouldn't say a statement. It's just me getting out and playing like I normally play."
Millsap scored seven straight points down the stretch, banking in a step-back 15-footer on the move as part of a three-point play, draining a 19-footer over Jason Thompson and dunking off a Ronnie Brewer pass.
"Those kind of tough moments when you need to score, he scored those shots," Andrei Kirilenko said.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan declared afterward: "He needs to get more minutes. That's where we're having trouble. We're trying to get him enough minutes to make him even better."
Millsap averaged 16.0 points and 10.3 rebounds last season in 38 games as a starter.
"Any player that does the things that he's able to do would want to be out there on the floor," Sloan said. "I've been reluctant because he's been so valuable to us off the bench. I haven't had a lot of, you might say, guys that are really in the groove of coming off the bench."
"That's a tremendous asset to our team, and I think that's proven out over the games, because he doesn't start but he's finished quite a few games here of late."
With Williams attending the funeral of an uncle in West Virginia and Boozer missing his first game after suffering a moderate right calf strain, the Jazz subtracted a combined 38.2 points, 14.6 rebounds and 12.8 assists from the lineup.
"Somebody was going to have to pick up that load, and I took it amongst myself to try to step up and do that," Millsap said.
Gaines, meanwhile, had played all of 10 minutes since hitting his three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Cleveland on Jan. 14. He gave the Jazz a boost in the second quarter, scoring in traffic, driving for a three-point play on Beno Udrih and crossing over Udrih on a jumper.
"It's been tough," Gaines said. "I'm used to playing every game, as far as my career, but it's part of our team's success right now. We're winning, and tonight I got an opportunity to play and I wanted to go in and make the best of it."
With Ronnie Price going 0-for-4, Sloan opened the fourth quarter with Gaines at point guard and stayed with him the distance. For a player who has been up from the D-League and with the Jazz not even a month, it was a remarkable show of confidence.
"I'm glad that he has some confidence in me to even keep me down the stretch of a close game like that," Gaines said. "The good thing for me is to have experience under my belt going down into the future."
Kevin Martin scored 33 points for Sacramento, but Gaines stripped him, then went to the free throw line with 4:04 left as Martin fouled him on the play. He scored off a tough layup with 2:55 remaining to make it 93-85 but couldn't complete the three-point play.
Kirilenko scored 18 points and blocked Tyreke Evans on a drive with 24.9 seconds left and the Jazz clinging to a 97-92 lead. It was enough to avenge a 104-99 loss Nov. 7 to Sacramento and send the Kings to their 15th loss in 18 games.