SALT LAKE CITY — On a night power forward Paul Millsap hit just one of his first nine shots from the field and small forward Andrei Kirilenko finished 1-for-10, the Jazz needed someone — anyone, really — to make some baskets.
Enter veteran Raja Bell, who contributed 14 points in a 94-85 win over Memphis on Monday evening.
Bell hadn't scored more than 12 since a Nov. 17 win over New Jersey, and was in single digits for six of the nine games since then. He made only 1-of-5 in his last outing, Friday's loss to Dallas that ended a seven-game win streak. And he'd been shooting just 34.5 percent in Utah's last three games.
So the efficiency he showed Monday — 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) from the field, including 4-for-5 (80 percent) from 3-point range — was especially satisfying for the starting shooting guard.
"I never thought of myself as a volume kind of guy," Bell said. "And I always look at people's stat sheets — they score 40, and when you shoot the ball 37 times you're supposed to.
"So it was cool to be efficient," he added. "And when we're efficient as a team, that's always a good sign."
The Jazz hit 42 percent Monday, despite the lines from Millsap (who wound up 3-for-11) and Kirilenko.
But it wasn't just the proficiency of Bell's play that rang loud. It also was the timeliness of some of his shots that spoke volumes about the relevance of his play.
His Deron Williams-fed 3-pointer with 34.7 seconds to go in the third quarter broke a 65-65 tie and gave Utah the lead for good, and his runner from the lane to start the fourth period put the Jazz up by seven at 72-65.
When Memphis closed to within three with a Zach Randolph bucket that made it 84-81 with just more than four minutes to go, Bell responded with yet another trey — this one off a kick from swingman C.J. Miles — and the Jazz were well on their way to improving to 16-6.
Yet there was nothing special, Bell suggested, behind why his shots were falling like they were against the Grizzlies.
"Some nights they feel really good, and they don't wind up going in. Some nights they feel good, and you don't get a whole lot up," he said. "(Monday) was just one of the those nights where it felt good, and I was able to get a few up at the basket.
"You know, they were leaving me open — and the ball was coming," added Bell, who also was able to cheat off Memphis rookie Xavier Henry on the other end and contribute one steal and a couple of defensive rebounds. "So, you make the most of your opportunities."5 comments on this story
Bell, brought back in the offseason for a second stint in Utah, is now shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from behind the long-distance line.
His 8.3 points-per-game average ranks sixth among all Jazz scorers, behind the double-digit numbers of starters Williams, Millsap, Al Jefferson and Kirilenko and sixth man Miles.
"We have a team," Bell said, "where when the ball's moving and we're running through our offense everyone's gonna get an opportunity."