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Utah Jazz: Sharing is caring—and winning—for the Jazz

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20 2012 6:05 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday's game against the Houston Rockets served as a good reminder for the Utah Jazz.

Their mental note looks something like this: "Share the ball, win the game."

While beating the Rockets 102-91, the Jazz had assists on 30 of their 37 made field goals.

Their shooting was off (40.2 percent), but they generously distributed the ball all night — from their transition game to their offensive sets.

"I thought we shared the ball, we picked the pace up, we got some transition baskets," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Having 30 assists on a night like (Monday), on 37 made baskets, is great sharing the ball."

In doing so, Utah matched its season-high assists total that it previously took three overtimes to rack up (in last week's thrilling win at Toronto). Before Monday, the Jazz's regulation-high was 24 dishes in the season-opening victory over Dallas.

Notice a common theme?

All those games — with loads of assists — were wins. Utah is now 4-1 overall and 4-0 at home when it has more assists than its opponent.

Conversely, the Jazz are 1-5 when they get out-assisted.

"It's fun when you do that. It's a lot of fun when everyone's involved and you're sharing the basketball," Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward said. "We got a lot of baskets in transition, easy ones, and I think that all starts with our defense. We were able to get a lot of stops, and that kind of just gets in the open court and we go from there."

The Jazz had only dished out 18 assists in two of their three last games coming into Monday. Utah ranks 13th in the NBA in passing with 21.8 assists per game (Milwaukee's No. 1 at 24.9 apg). But the Jazz are dishing out 24.3 dimes an outing at EnergySolutions Arena.

Second-year pro Enes Kanter thought Monday's assists output was reflective of the team's chemistry.

"It just shows how, like, we're really good friends," Kanter said. "Our teammates love each other. On the court, we just go out there and try to do our best."

RARE R&R: The Jazz have had a pretty packed schedule since opening the 2012-13 season, playing 12 games in the 20-day span between Halloween and Monday night.

Utah had only had one day of rest at the most between games up until now. The Jazz don't play again until Jimmer Fredette and his Kings visit ESA on Friday, giving Utah three days to rest, practice and eat Turkey.

The Miller family and Jazz personnel dished out Thanksgiving dinners to several thousand homeless and less-fortunate Utah residents on Tuesday, and the team had a private event at night, but players got a rare day off that didn't include any practicing or traveling.

"It's good to get a little day off … but trust me, we're going to make it up on Wednesday. Believe that," Jazz center Al Jefferson said, grinning. "But it's good to get a day off, kind of get our legs back under us, just sit down and enjoy ourselves."

Utah, which practices again today and on Thanksgiving morning, needs to enjoy it while it lasts.

Beginning Friday, the Jazz have a tough stretch that includes 10 games in six cities in 17 nights.

TOP ASSIST: Speaking of Kanter and assists, he was the recipient of a sweet set-up pass from DeMarre Carroll that led to what earned the No. 1 spot on the NBA's Top Plays for the day.

Jamaal Tinsley, who topped the Jazz with 11 assists, started the fast break off with a spot-on pass to Carroll near midcourt. The Jazz small forward then spotted Kanter beelining it toward the basket and lofted a lob up for the 6-11 Turkish center.

"Oh, man. I think this here was my first alley-oop," Kanter said with a wide smile. "DeMarre just saw me and I was like, 'Throw it up! Throw it up!' And he just did. It was a really good feeling."

The pass from Carroll was a great setup, even if a bit high, which forced Kanter to catch it and quickly dunk while his momentum carried him behind the backboard.

Asked about that, Kanter grinned and offered a humble response, "You're making me feel like I did something really big."

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com TWITTER: DJJazzyJody

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