Ronnie Price didn't play against Denver on Wednesday but got 17 minutes against his old team, the Sacramento Kings, on Friday night and scored 11 points with three steals and two assists.
What would Saturday night's home game with the Chicago Bulls hold for the Utah Valley State product? He had no idea.
Turned out, the Utah Jazz needed their third-string point/two-guard for a second night in a row, and he was instrumental in what was a tough-in-coming 97-87 win in EnergySolutions Arena.
"Ronnie was player of the game," said Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer. "He came in, changed the game. He hit big shots down the stretch in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, had the dunk on the fast break that got the crowd going, got us going a little bit."
Price entered the locker room after doing radio and national-TV interviews to find a dozen reporters standing at his stall.
"We got a win tonight, that's why," he said.
Price entered at point guard for Deron Williams with 2:09 left in the third quarter Price had played the two-guard spot much of Friday's game and with the Bulls on the move, having cut a nine-point Jazz lead to four.
They made it two points, 65-63, with a pair of free throws, but after an Andrei Kirilenko/Andres Nocioni exchange of baskets and a Matt Harpring foul, Price raced for a layup followed by a 3-pointer from out front in the final :31.2 of the third quarter to give Utah some life.
"A big part of the reason we won tonight was Ronnie Price," said Williams, who later played point with Price at the two until the final two minutes, when Kyle Korver was subbed in for Price in case Utah needed free-throw shooting.
By then, in Price's 12 1/2 minutes on the floor, the Jazz were comfortably up 94-84.
For the second straight night, he'd missed only one shot, going 4-for-5, 2-for-3 on threes, and added two assists. Friday he was also 4-for-5.
"He came in and stepped up and led us with a lot of energy in the second half," said Williams. "Hit some big shots, gave us energy, gave us confidence, and then we took it from there."
To open the fourth, Price made a steal but then lost the ball again, but then he made the dunk Boozer talked of after a Boozer steal, and he assisted Boozer's 20-foot shot on the next possession to make it 76-65. Kirilenko then drove the lane and passed it out to Price at the 3-point line, and that one went down. It was 81-67.
Then he assisted Boozer again on an up-the-lane layin for a 16-point lead that would have been 17, but Boozer missed the free throw.
Price pumped a fist in the air when Boozer hit the shot.
"I can't hide my emotions. I'm an emotional player," said Price. "When I'm out there on the court, I'm having so much fun, and that was a big play when Carlos got that and-one, and I was excited."
Price has appeared in only 31 of the Jazz's 52 games, and the most he's played was 21 minutes. He did get some time recently while Jason Hart was hurt, but Hart is back now.
"Ronnie might have been waiting for his opportunity now he's getting it a little bit, and he's showing what he can do," said Boozer.
Friday night, he started the second half for two-guard C.J. Miles. Saturday, coach Jerry Sloan called him in at the point for Williams. He never knows if or when his time will come.
"If my name is called, then I have to be ready to play no matter when it is or what time of the game it is or if it's down the way," Price said.
There's no way to plan."Well, I pride myself on defense," Price said, "so I try my best to get going defensively and then just let everything else come to me because we have so many weapons on this team. The last thing they need me to do is score. I just try to play the best defense possible and get some hustle plays and not let the guys down."
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