SALT LAKE CITY — It was a first quarter for the ages for the Utah Jazz during their 103-98 victory over the New York Knicks at EnergySolutions Arena on Monday night.
Consider: If the Jazz had kept up their pace from the opening quarter, they would have finished with 176 points. Deron Williams, meanwhile, was on pace to score 56 points and dish out 32 assists through the first 12 minutes of action.
"It's always fun playing like that," said Jazz forward C.J. Miles, who started again in place of the injured Andrei Kirilenko. "Everybody was getting up and down the floor, and it makes it exciting for the fans.
There was good passing going on and guys getting dunks and making threes. If we play like that, we're hard to beat."
The Jazz scored 44 points in the first — their best-scoring quarter of the season. They did damage from inside and out, too.
Carlos Boozer made the Knicks pay with 11 points in the quarter, mostly on layups and dunks.
"We took the ball inside," said Boozer when asked about the team's first-quarter success. "We knew we had a mismatch in there and kept getting layups, layups, layups, free throws and what have you — and we went from there."
Utah's incredible 85 percent shooting from the field in the first wasn't only because of easy makes inside. The Jazz tied a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter with seven — and it came without a miss from long range. Williams went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc en route to 14 points in the quarter.
"I didn't think I was going to miss," said Williams, who also dished out eight assists in the first quarter.
"We were just hitting on all cylinders," said Jazz guard Wesley Matthews, who went 2-for-2 from long range in the first quarter.
"Everybody was making shots. D-Will was making plays and almost had a double-double in the first quarter. Not too many people can do that."
Utah's 3-point success was the best display of long-range shooting for an NBA team in a quarter since the New Jersey Nets went 8-for-8 from beyond the arc in the third quarter of a game in 2008.
"When you get open shots, we have guys who can make 'em," said Miles.
"They went into a zone for a bit, and we picked it apart. Guys were driving and kicking or going in and getting layups."
But the Knicks knew there was no way the Jazz would be able to keep up that torrid pace — and they didn't.
"They shot unbelievable in the first quarter," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. "We stayed in the game, even though they shot 87 percent. ... So when they cooled off, we were able to stay in there."
Indeed. New York was able to enter the final quarter with the game tied despite the Jazz's remarkable start.
Alas, while the Jazz opened the game with near perfection on offense, it was defense late that proved to be the difference.The Knicks managed only 11 points in fourth quarter as the Jazz held on to win.