SALT LAKE CITY — Forget that boring and overdone "Who's better?" debate over the top-tier of point guards.
The real question Utah Jazz fans might want to ask the NBA is this: Can more games featuring Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul be scheduled?
For one thing, the two put on a show Wednesday night — each giving their supporters more proof and validation for their premiere-playmaker arguments..
In the first half, at least.
As usual, it was D-Will's Utah Jazz who ended up on the winning side of the scoreboard over CP3's New Orleans Hornets, who eventually fizzled like the Great Blizzard of 2010.
Williams scored 26 points and dished out 11 assists — and Utah got a big game from Big Al and another brilliant outing from its bench bunch — in the Jazz's energetic and electric 105-87 victory over the Hornets at a rocking EnergySolutions Arena.
"I thought we played hard all night long," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said in as big of compliment as the labor-loving coach can give.
For those counting at home — and many are — Williams is now 12-3 in head-to-head match-ups against his eternally linked star pal who has received more recognition and awards since they joined the league together in 2005.
Jefferson thoroughly enjoyed his first up-close-and-personal experience in the rivalry that everybody but D-Will and CP3 seems to like bantering about..
"When I was with the Timberwolves I used to always look for that matchup, to see them two go against each other. And to be a part of it is just amazing," Jefferson said. "They're two great point guards going head-to-head, and plus they're best friends too. It's just very exciting to see."
Especially for 19,237 attending Jazz fans, who witnessed Williams and Utah outplay Paul and New Orleans overall. Paul finished with 17 points and nine assists but only had two points after halftime.
"He goes and we go, and he knows that," Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said of Williams, who had 12 second-half points. "He motivates us to play well."
This game wasn't just about the brighter of the two stars, though.
In fact, it wasn't even just about the starters for the Jazz again, although Jefferson's 23-point, 10-rebound outing and Paul Millsap's 17-point, seven-board night came in handy as Utah won its third straight.
Like Monday, Utah's cavalry crew came to play. And the collective effort of Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, C.J. Miles, Francisco Elson and Kyrylo Fesenko ignited the Jazz, who improved to 11-5 after beating the 11-3 Hornets in their first home win over an opponent with a winning record this year.
"That group has got a lot of confidence in each other and seem to play pretty well together," Sloan said. "Any time you put 'em in the game and they play like that, it gives you a big lift."
As has often been the case, the Jazz jumped off the starting block like they were wearing cement shoes against world-class sprinters.
Utah fell behind 6-0, and didn't score until the 9:46 mark when Millsap hit a jumper.
It wasn't merely coincidental that Utah first chipped away at New Orleans' oft-regained six-point advantage and then built its own lead when the Jazz's sparkplug reserves were subbed in one after another.
Miles, Price and Elson came in near the end of the first quarter when the Jazz — with Williams and Millsap also in — ended the period with an 11-4 surge for a 31-30 lead.
Watson and Fesenko joined their jumpstart Jazzmen to begin the second quarter, and that spunk-and-spark lineup which changed Monday's momentum in Jazz's favor in the Kings' crowning again did its thing.
Elson hit a jumper, Watson and Price scored on fast-break layups and suddenly the Jazz — also receiving pestering defense from these guys — were up 38-30 after scoring the first seven points of the quarter as part of a 10-0 run.
Those five combined to total 28 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and a big ol' jolt of energy.
Utah continued to play strong, save a brief Hornets' run at the beginning of the fourth that trimmed a 16-point third quarter lead down to five. But the Jazz squashed that in a big way by going on runs of 8-2 and 11-1 while re-upping their lead to as many as 21 points.
Almost everything clicked for the Jazz. They outrebounded the Hornets 38-36, had more assists (27-13), more steals (11-7), fewer turnovers (17-11) and more blocks (3-2), including a crowd-pleasing Miles' swat of an Emeka Okafor shot that sparked a Watson layup and a deafening roar.
"It definitely was defensively and offensively the best balance that we've had," Miles said. "And the energy throughout the whole game was great."
Utah, which has today off to enjoy (but not too much) the Thanksgiving holiday, will get another chance to knock off a high-quality club when the 13-2 Los Angeles Lakers visit for a Black Friday showdown.
"Hopefully," Williams said, "we don't eat too much turkey and stuffing, and we can have the same energy we did this game."22 comments on this story
NOTES:Raja Bell was assessed a technical foul in the first quarter. It was the 11-year veteran's second of the season and the ninth total for the Jazz personnel. ... P.A. announcer Dan Roberts was unable to attend Wednesday's game due to personal reasons. His son, Jeremy Roberts, handled the announcing duties in the place of his father, who has missed less than 10 games in three-plus decades as the in-arena voice at Jazz contests. ... Kirilenko finished with zero points on 0-for-6 shooting.