CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Utah Jazz were so hot Wednesday night, Jamaal Tinsley waved a white towel at his torrid teammates during a particularly smoking stretch in the fourth quarter.
If not for Tinsley's helpful fanning assistance after a tough drive by Alec Burks and back-to-back 3-pointers from DeMarre Carroll and Randy Foye, it is indeed possible the Jazz would've spontaneously combusted.
How hot were the Jazz, you wonder?
While blowing out the Charlotte Bobcats 112-102 at Time Warner Cable Arena, the Jazz shot 53.7 percent, hit 10-of-22 3-pointers, scored 36 in the second quarter and never trailed.
The Bobcats might've known they were in for a long night in the first quarter when Tinsley grabbed a loose ball and hucked up a funky-looking, quick-reacting heave from 3-point land that hit the bottom of the net after barely leaving his hands before the shot-clock expired.
Tinsley was one of eight Jazz players to score at least nine points in this road-trip opener.
Al Jefferson led the scoring barrage with 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting, while interior tag-team partner Paul Millsap added 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
"We felt like we were in a good offensive rhythm, which was created by defense," Millsap said. "We got out and guarded guys out there, especially the first half. The second half we didn't do too well, but we'll take that win any way we can get it."
That defense-created-offense theme was an oft-repeated refrain in the Jazz locker room.
Another common phrase after Utah won for the fourth time in five games while kicking off this three-game trek?
"This is a business trip for us," Millsap said. "We want to try to get all three of these games. No excuses. We want to go out and try to win them all."
That shouldn't be a problem if they shoot this precisely, execute this well and spread out 30 assists in Atlanta (Friday) and Detroit (Saturday).
Seven Jazz players had multiple assists, topped by Tinsley's game-high eight dishes.
"That was great. I thought that was key to the game," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of the ball distribution. "We had 19 (assists) at halftime. We wanted to make sure we continued that throughout the game. ... It was a positive sign that we continued to share the ball."
There weren't many negative signs from this particular game as the Jazz stepped above the .500 level by improving to 19-18.
Michael Jordan's Bobcats, meanwhile, fell to 9-25 after losing for the 20th time in 22 games. Reserve Ben Gordon led Charlotte with 20, spearheading a Bobcat bench that racked up 67 points.
But the Jazz reserves held their own, especially Gordon Hayward. Interestingly, the swingman followed Monday's big 27-point night by going 4 for 5 from 3-point range but 0 for 5 from 2-point territory en route to 14 points.
"We're not letting one or two guys do everything. Everybody's contributing. The bench is contributing," said Millsap, who also contributed five rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. "G's done a great job for us. He's been the glue for us lately, so hopefully he can continue to do that."
The Jazz are also hoping to keep up the smooth flow of their offense, which ran just as it was designed to do in this one.
"We played inside-out basketball," Jefferson said. "They were trying to double team me. Paul got off and they started worrying about Paul. I got off and they started worrying about both of us. Gordon and DC (Carroll) and all those guys were hitting big shots. It just worked out."
Carroll finished with 10 points and six rebounds while filling in as the starting small forward for injured Marvin Williams, who will sit out at least three games because of right knee inflammation.
The Jazz also got 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots from Derrick Favors and had another solid effort from combo guard Alec Burks (12 points, three assists). Foye scored nine points all on 3-pointers.
From the assists and defensive helping to Tinsley's sideline cheering and a celebratory scream by Big Al after Millsap hit a tough shot in the first half, this was as cohesive of a showing as the Jazz have had all year.
"These guys are great, man. It's a great group of guys that really get along with each other," said Corbin, whose team was two games below .500 just over a week ago. "The encouraging thing about it is they continue to make each other better by competing in practice every day. And when you get in the game, it's a unit and they stay together."
NOTES: Rookie Kevin Murphy made his first appearance for the Jazz since Nov. 19 after being called up from the D-League on Tuesday. Utah was shooting 57 percent midway through the fourth before cooling off a bit down the stretch, keeping its Dec. 3 game against the Clippers as its season-best shooting night (.568). Corbin, who's from nearby Columbia, S.C., had 30-plus family members and friends in attendance. ... Injured point guard Mo Williams returned to Utah on Monday after his Friday surgery in New York City, but he did not accompany the team on this trip. He'll be out at least six weeks.
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