One game after Utah's offense turned into an insider's only two-man show, the Jazz responded Saturday by letting their wings carry them to a 96-93 home win against Sacramento. Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles combined for 41 points on 15-of-28 shooting, lifting up Utah and preventing someone named Jimmer Fredette from turning into Jay-Z.
Earl Watson loves it in Salt Lake City and he's getting more and more comfortable with a television camera in his face. He had the second-best quote of the night when asked about the BYU love inside the Marriott Center (EnergySolutions Arena).
"It was a great atmosphere," Watson said. "It was like college. I thought I had on a Utah Utes jersey. It was like Utes vs. BYU. I was back in college. I want a per-diem check."
But Alec Burks didn't just drill two 3s and show off a quick release he's been working on with Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek. He stepped up to the mic and delivered a career quote that topped Watson's.
"I have never seen anything like that. That’s crazy the way he gets that recognition," Burks said. "I thought Jay-Z or someone had walked up, but it was just Jimmer. So it’s crazy."
Hayward and Miles offset off nights by Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. The big-man duo combined to shoot just 7 of 23, while Jefferson never looked comfortable and appeared to still be dealing with a right ankle injury. Millsap was only 2 of 10 from the floor, but he added a game-high 14 rebounds.
Solid outing by Devin Harris. Quiet nine points, but he had a team-high six assists, was aggressive at times and did a good job of setting up his teammates.
Hayward on attacking from jumpball: I just tried to be more assertive. I tried to shoot with confidence. I'm still not where I want to be. I missed a lot of wide-open easy looks and I can just feel there's so much more. It's a step in the right direction.
Not hesitating when taking 3s: That's what I need to do — no more hesitation. I've said it a hundred times but Jeremy and I are in there, we're shooting all the time, so it's not like I haven't done it before. I've just got to step up and shoot it like that in the game.
Being more involved in the offense: Yeah, a little bit. Especially early. I credit my teammates who kicked out and gave me the opportunity to shoot those. That's on them. I've just got to continue to be like this and play aggressive.
Burks on his quick stroke: I've always got confidence in myself. I've got the utmost in myself. Just been working with coach Jeff. Shooting actually — it's going in.
Quick release and smooth motion: Yeah. I'm going to do what I do when I'm out there. I'm just going to shoot it with confidence. If you don't shoot it with confidence, you ain't going to make it.
Jamaal Tinsley said he's not thinking about the Jazz keeping him around for the rest of the season because he doesn't want to lose focus on the day-to-day. Tinsley acknowledged, though, that he'd love to keep wearing a Utah uniform.
Jeremy Evans has yet to be contacted by the NBA about appearing in the All-Star dunk contest.
Burks still insists he can jump higher than Evans.
Major disaster in the Jazz's locker room before tipoff. Popcorn was spilled near Evans' locker, with Hayward and Burks left to catalog and collect the damage. It took a few long minutes for all the spilt golden stuff to be moved into small piles, some of which ended up on top of a shower shoe.
Even bigger news: Jefferson joked that he's becoming addicted to cellphone video games. After Hayward helped Jefferson set up Temple Run on his iPhone, Big Al was sucked into the zone. The only problem: he couldn't figure out why his character kept turning blue and white. Hayward rolled out a few tricks while watching over Jefferson's shoulder, but cautioned the center to "take it slow." Jefferson's character ran a mile over a bunch of bridges and jumped up and down a lot before he answered questions from a reporter.
Isaiah Thomas (13 points, 3 of 3 from 3-point land, 18:35) nearly buried the Jazz.
Great stat line from Tyreke Evans — 31 points, 12 of 20, nine assists, six rebounds — but it still feels like he's not maximizing his potential.
Off game from DeMarcus Cousins (14 points, nine rebounds), who was never a factor and continued to show off the bad character traits and poor body language that have shadowed him since he entered the NBA.
Strong outing by Jason Thompson (14 points, 7 of 11, four rebounds), who looked as promising as he did two years ago.
J.J. Hickson's really fallen off. Zero points on 0-of-3 shooting in 9:25. He and Kings players such as Francicso Garcia and John Salmons were outhustled and outworked, at times looking like they weren't interested in the game they were playing.
The next week should very telling for the Jazz. Utah faces Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers at home and travels to Golden State. It all sets up the team's two-month test: 21 of 34 games on the road.
Brian T. Smith
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