After struggling for much of the preseason, reserve point guards Jason Hart and Ronnie Price both used Tuesday night's blowout exhibition win over the Los Angeles Lakers to display what was by far their best performances since joining the Jazz as free agents this past offseason.
Much of their success came during a fourth-quarter stretch of about nine minutes in which the two played together in the backcourt, with Hart running the point and Price looking more comfortable at shooting guard than he has at point guard.
Price had eight points during the quarter. Hart had four points and four assists and seemed to love every second he and Utah Valley State product Price were next to each other on the floor.
Several things will have to fall into place small-lineup opponents, starting point Deron Williams out of the game but it's possible Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will use the two together at times during the regular season.
Hart, who did not practice Wednesday because of a bruised tailbone and bruised left elbow sustained when he was knocked hard to the floor by Laker forward Brian Cook, sure hopes so.
"We played a lot together in practice in Sac," said Hart, who was a teammate of Price's in Sacramento for part of last season and all of the previous season. "I kind of know his game. He's an offensive player. I know where he gets his shots at."
Sloan seemed pleased with both after Wednesday's preseason-ending game, which the Jazz won 102-81.
"(Hart) pushed the ball up the floor very well and got us in offense," the Jazz coach said. "(Price) shot the ball a lot more comfortably.
"Both players were much more comfortable trying to play our game than what they have been," Sloan added. "I think they have a little bit better understanding of what we're trying to do."Sloan, incidentally, said Wednesday that he plans to bring Hart off the bench first behind Williams when the Jazz open the regular season Tuesday night at Golden State. Hart and Price had been competing for the backup job throughout the exhibition season.
GM SURVEY: With 35 percent voting for Utah, a survey of general managers from throughout the NBA by NBA.com says that the Jazz have the best homecourt advantage in the league.
The survey also reveals that GMs favor San Antonio to repeat as NBA champion (37 percent, followed by Phoenix and Dallas) and Cleveland's LeBron James to be NBA MVP (30 percent, followed by San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, with last year's winner, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, getting no votes).
Duncan was picked as both best power forward and best center in the league. Phoenix's Steve Nash was chosen by the GMs as best point guard, James was selected as best small forward and with a whopping 93 percent of the vote Bryant was named best shooting guard.Boston was chosen as likely most-improved team, Nowitzki was named top international player, Seattle's Kevin Durant was favored to win Rookie of the Year and San Antonio's Bruce Bowen was tapped as best defensive player.
MISC.: Jazz backup power forward Paul Millsap did not practice Wednesday because of a bruised left knee sustained when he knocked knees in Tuesday's game ... Backup small forward Matt Harpring (knee surgery rehab) took part in part of practice but not full contact drills. ... Because the California wildfires forced a planned team visit to a battleship in San Diego to be canceled, in addition to cancellation of Thursday's planned game against the Lakers in San Diego, members of the U.S. Navy exchanged gifts with Jazz players following Wednesday's practice at Irvine Valley College. The players got monogrammed hats, and the servicemen received an autographed team basketball. ... Ex-Jazz point guard Mark Jackson will join fellow analyst Jeff Van Gundy, the former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks head coach, and play-by-play man Mike Breen on ESPN's lead NBA broadcast team, the cable network announced Wednesday.
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