Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — They go together like mashed potatoes and gravy.
A small scoop here, a little ladle there — nice combo to complement the main course, Earl Watson and Ronnie Price are.
Such were the sentiments again Wednesday night, when the Jazz's backup point guard and reserve combo guard — not exactly a towering pair at a listed 6-foot-1 and 6-2, respectively — helped spark a Thanksgiving Eve win over the New Orleans Hornets.
The two have made a habit lately of offering quick-paced play off the bench, and inspiring fellow subs to do the same.
"We're made up to play up-tempo," sixth man swingman C.J. Miles said. "We have two point guards (Watson and Price) in the game; from the time (opponents) pick the ball up we pressure the ball, and we get out and run."
Teammates, especially starters, appreciate the effort — and hope there is more of the same when the Los Angeles Lakers visit tonight.
"It helps a lot," All-Star point guard Deron Williams said. "Essentially we haven't lost anything with that second unit. We've actually gotten better."
"The second unit is really important to us," center Al Jefferson added. "It is amazing how well they're playing right now."
OFF GUARD: Williams has been playing on occasion at shooting guard next to Watson in the fourth quarter.
It happened last Saturday, when Utah won at Portland — a game coached by longtime assistant Phil Johnson because head coach Jerry Sloan was attending a family funeral. And it happened for a stretch Wednesday, again at Johnson's behest.
"Phil suggested we put (Williams) at the 2-guard position, and Earl did a terrific job running our offense and getting the ball to D-Will," Sloan said.
ELSON'S ROLE: Reserve big man Francisco Elson's eight points against New Orleans on Wednesday — all scored in the first half — were a season-high.
Beyond the scoring, Elson was commended by Sloan for his "excellent" defensive effort against Hornets big David West — specifically for trying "to keep him away from the basket."
"He was hurting us some, obviously, in the first quarter," Sloan said of West, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the opening period. "But Fran did a pretty good job on him whenever he played him."
Elson has been playing off the bench in the regular rotation at both power forward and center.
After a five-game stretch in which he played eight minutes or fewer, the offseason free-agent signee has logged 13 or more in four of his last five games — including a season high-matching 18 Wednesday.
BOARDS BATTLE: Utah outrebounded New Orleans 38-36, snapping a streak of six straight games in which it had lost the battle of the boards.
"If we're gonna play and have success, you know, we need everybody to rebound," Sloan said. "We still had any number of plays — I can't tell you how many — when a shot goes up and we just concede it again (Wednesday).
"A couple times we just got lost and didn't go after the ball — and then, consequently, we didn't get back down the floor to stop them."
MEMORIES: Wednesday's already much-dissected Williams vs. Chris Paul matchup at the point was a source of fond recollection for Sloan.
"It brings back a lot of memories, when John Stocton and (Gary) Payton would go at each other," the Jazz coach said. "I mean, they respect each other. There's not any goofballing around. They're going at each other from the time that ball goes up until it's over. I saw that with John. It was certainly fun to watch."
HMMM: Jazz starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko was scoreless with 0-for-6 field shooting against New Orleans in 26 minutes.
It was the first game this season Kirilenko hasn't scored any points.
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