SALT LAKE CITY — The East Coast Jazz (New Jersey Nets) were no match for the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
The current Jazz put the Nets away by halftime, and cruised to a 107-94 win over New Jersey. The Nets aren't much of a litmus test, but the Jazz are certainly deserving of excellent grades for handling their business.
GUARDS: Raja Bell quieted his critics — at least for one night. He, as Nets coach Avery Johnson put it, had a little extra pep in his step like the rest of the Jazz. He shot well, going 5-for-6 and scored a season-high 12 points. Devin Harris was solid in running the offense and dished six assists. Deron Williams struggled in his return to Utah, shooting 3-for-15. Anthony Morrow scored his average of 12 points for the Nets. The Jazz's backcourt easily outplayed New Jersey's.
FORWARDS: Paul Millsap was outstanding with his scoring (18 points), rebounding (12 points), energy and hustle. Gordon Hayward had a quiet 10 points, and improved on his shooting from recent games. MarShon Brooks had 11 points, three fewer than his average, for the Nets. Kris Humphries was about the only Net who had a decent game, as he had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Another positive for Humphries was that a teammate — Williams — was booed more than he was in a road game.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson was efficient, scoring 20 points with four rebounds in 23 minutes. Mehmet Okur had nine points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes and went 0-for-3 from 3-point range. That's a big win for the Jazz.
BENCH: As is becoming the norm, the Jazz's reserves greatly outplayed their counterparts. C.J. Miles led the bench effort with a season-high 17 points and six rebounds, and Utah's bench outscored New Jersey's, 45-28.
COACHING: Tyrone Corbin did an excellent job not only of matching his team up with the Nets, but also for trying to keep them fresh for their showdown with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. Millsap (27) and Derrick Favors (26) were the only guys to play more than 25 minutes.
OVERALL: The final score wasn't indicative of how well the Jazz played or how much they controlled the contest. The Jazz admitted this was a game they had circled on their calendar and they played that way. A dominant effort for Utah in every phase of the contest. They had 64 points in the paint and led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.