PHOENIX After playing 26 minutes off the bench and returning from a brief hamstring scare, Derek Fisher's calming influence was credited for aiding the Jazz's Friday-night win in Phoenix.
"I think Derek Fisher picked us up a great deal," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of the veteran guard acquired in an offseason trade with Golden State, which just happens to visit the Delta Center tonight.
"It definitely helps out when he comes in," added second-season point Deron Williams, who finished in the backcourt with Fisher alongside him as the Jazz overcame a six-point deficit in the final two-plus minutes of a 108-104 victory.
The Jazz traded for Fisher, who won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, so they'd have someone who does the very things that thus far he has. And that is this: Add a veteran presence on the floor, especially late in games. "He's been all the way to mountain top, he's conquered the mountain top. He's real savvy," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. "He's always confident, he's always focused and that helps us out, because we're veteran deficient."
Sloan said before Friday's game that he fully intends to close most games this season with Williams and Fisher playing together.
Whether he'll be able to do that in the short-term, however, remains to be seen.
Fisher, who missed most of the preseason with a badly bruised tailbone, returned to close Friday after having his right hamstring checked out by trainers.
But he said he probably won't know the full extent of the injury, and if it's going to be a problem at all, until waking up this morning.
"I felt a tug in my right hamstring, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too serious before continuing on," Fisher said. "I went to make a move defensively against (Leandro) Barbosa. I went to step, and my foot kind of slipped. I felt it pull a little bit, and I knew immediately it was hamstring.
"Fortunately I was able to come back out there for the last few minutes and give us a boost."
Fisher's 19-foot jumper with 1:51 to go pulled the Jazz to within two, and his two free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining sealed the victory.
BELL-RINGER: Ex-Jazz guard Raja Bell of the Suns apparently has tired of talking last season's playoff series in which he infamously clotheslined Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and the suspension that stemmed from the incident.
"I literally get asked constantly," Bell told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune. "I'll meet people, we'll start talking basketball and it takes about 10 seconds for it to come up.
"I'm starting to let people know it's not a topic I want to revisit ... I'm moving past it," he added. "I don't want something like that to define my career."
Bell has, however, profited from the notoriety.
The Phoenix area newspaper also reported Bell is wanted man among advertisers, and even has a new deal with Taco Bell he once worked for the fast-food chain "back in the day" that allows him "as many burritos, tacos and chalupas as he wants at any location for the life of the deal."
"I think I'll just order one of everything and see what happens," he told the East Valley paper. "They told me I could take the whole team, there's no limit."
Bell scored 17 points before fouling out Friday.
IN THE CROWD: Ex-Jazz center Greg Ostertag, who retired after last season. Ostertag is living the Phoenix area now and seems to enjoying life without basketball; the avid outsdoorsman said he'll be hunting this weekend, in fact.BEAR THE MAN: The Jazz's Bear mascot will be honored at halftime of tonight's game for his recent selection into the Mascot Hall of Fame.