Jazz 98, Nets 88
On a night when neither team could find the basket, the Utah Jazz showed how well they can move the ball.
That proved the difference as the Jazz (8-4) held on for a 98-88 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night.
''We shared the ball and it was moving a lot,'' said Jazz forward Paul Millsap. ''Not just one guy or two guys were pounding the ball. Guys were moving and setting screens and making things happen on offense like they are supposed to.''
Deron Williams led Utah with 23 points and added eight assists, while Millsap had 19 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
All five Jazz starters were in double figures by early in the third quarter - a first this season - with Al Jefferson adding 16 points and Andrei Kirilenko 15.
''We're one of the best teams in the NBA for sharing the ball,'' Kirilenko said. ''Everybody played very unselfish and moved the ball fast, getting that extra pass to the open shooter. I liked it. In the perfect game, everybody scores lots of points.''
The key basket may have come from Raja Bell, back after missing one game with a groin injury. He hit a 16-foot fadeaway with 2:03 left and the shot clock about to expire to give Utah a 93-86 lead. The Jazz held on from there, a task made easier as Nets center Brook Lopez fouled out a minute earlier.
''Raja played big-time tonight and hit some shots. When he's on, we're a hard team to guard,'' Jefferson said.
Bell, a free-agent acquisition this offseason, was happy to be an active participant for a change.
''I haven't been helping out the way I should,'' said Bell. ''Tonight I was determined to get out there, be aggressive and give my team some help.''
Bell finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
He frequently was out on the fast break. At one point, the Jazz had a 20-3 advantage in fast-break points as they led by as many as 13.
On a down note, Utah shot just 40.2 percent as a team, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range. But the Nets were worse, shooting 37.6 percent (32 of 85).
New Jersey stayed in the game by dominating on the boards 57-44.
''We got to be tougher down there,'' Millsap said. ''In spurts you can see our defense take off. In spurts you can see our offense take off. We've still got to get those two things together.''
Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who preaches passing, was generally pleased.
''We had to have a pretty good game to be able to beat them,'' Sloan said of the Nets (4-7). ''I thought they stayed in there. They're well-coached and they did everything they could to get in the game. They missed some shots and fortunately we made our free throws down the stretch.''
Doing much of the damage for New Jersey was Kris Humphries, a former first-round draft pick by Utah. Humphries had 15 rebounds and added eight points.
Anthony Morrow led New Jersey with 24 points and Devin Harris added 19.
Lopez finished with 17 points but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter before fouling out.
Jefferson, who is being called upon to step up now that Carlos Boozer is gone, said he is beginning to feel more and more comfortable after a dozen games with Utah.
''Things are becoming clearer to me and when the play is called, I don't have a brain freeze anymore,'' Jefferson said. ''I know exactly what they're talking about.''
Notes: The Jazz lost C.J. Miles in the second quarter with a mild back strain but he said afterward that he doesn't expect to miss any games. .. The Jazz are 5-1 when giving up fewer than 100 points. ... Nets rookie Derrick Favors is the youngest player in the NBA at 19 but entered the game ranked second in rebounds (6.7 average) among rookies. He had nine more Wednesday. ... Entering Wednesday's game, Deron Williams was tied for first among league guards in double-doubles with six, and was second in assists (10.2).