Deron Williams thanks backup Ronnie Price for the rest he got during the fourth quarter of the Jazz's NBA Western Conference semifinal series Game 4 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
But he had no idea it would last nearly five minutes.
"Coach (Jerry Sloan) wanted me to go back (for the start of) the fourth, and I said, 'No, I'm gonna rest for a couple,'" said Williams, the Jazz's starting point guard. "I wasn't planning on resting (four-plus), but he was playing so well, and the offense was playing so well, I just sat out while he was doing his thing.
"And he definitely has played great in this series," Williams added. "He's given us a lot of energy, he's diving for loose balls, he's making hustle plays, blocking people's shots. I mean, he's playing great."
Sloan also was praising the Utah Valley State product profusely on Monday, including the hustle he displayed while racing back down the floor to block a Luke Walton layup attempt in Game 4.
"People look at numbers and baskets and stuff," the Jazz coach said, "but the last two games he's made a couple great plays that's really have been over and above what you expect out of players.
"That's always rewarding to see because a lot of guys don't get the time they deserve," Sloan added. "He probably deserves a little bit more time, but he's playing behind a Deron Williams, and that's a tough place to be for playing time. But he's handled it very professionally."
NO TURIAF SUSPENSION: Laker big man Ronny Turiaf, ejected with a flagrant-2 foul on Price in Game 4, will not be suspended for Wednesday's Game 5.
"No further action ... Stands as called," an NBA spokesman said via e-mail Monday night.
Jazz owner Larry H. Miller called (during a Sunday appearance on KSL-TV) for a suspension after watching a replay of the foul, but Price who needed four stitches to close a cut over his right eye after hitting his head on the floor didn't think one was warranted.
RIGHT BACK AT YA: Told Monday that Price had called him "the best point guard in the league," Williams responded, "Well, he's the best backup in the league then."
AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS: For the first time in the series, the Jazz in Game 4 made more trips to the free-throw line than the Lakers.
Utah hit 37-of-45 freebies compared to Los Angeles' 14-of-25.
Carlos Boozer said being "the aggressor" by strongly taking the ball to the basket paid off.
"We just kept trying to take it inside and go in the paint, whether it be on layups, fast breaks, post-ups ... That's the reason why we shot more free throws," the Jazz forward said. "If you put the onus on the refs, they're going to call calls if there's a foul there."
Even including Sunday, the Lakers (151) have attempted 32 more foul shots than the Jazz (119) through four games.
A GOOD SIGN?: Jazz players continue to be big fans of their fans, who were as rowdy as ever during Utah's two wins against the Lakers.
"They're just loud from the start, every play, every possession, every call," Williams said. "They're on the refs. They're on the opposing players. They're great. They've got great signs."
Williams didn't say which poster was his favorite.
But his comment might have been in reaction to Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who was quoted by the Los Angeles Daily News as saying, "I would be very concerned, if I was living in the Mormon community and the Salt Lake community, at the quality of those signs that were out there. They were rather amoral and probably a bit raucous on Mother's Day and on Sunday."
JOB CANDIDATE? Jazz player personnel vice president Walt Perrin has been identified by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a possible candidate for the Atlanta Hawks' vacant general manager's position.ALUMNI UPDATE: Ex-Jazz guard Mo Williams of the Milwaukee Bucks recently underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb.
Contributing: Jody Genessy E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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