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Jazz notes: After speaking out, Utah's Raja Bell produces

Published January 9, 2012 11:08 pm

Jazz notes • Veteran guard has best game of season vs. Golden State.
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The floor felt different to Raja Bell on Saturday. So did the game.

Unleashing his best performance of the season during the Jazz's 88-87 road victory against the Golden State Warriors, Utah's veteran shooting guard said everything from an increased offensive tempo to consistent touches helped bring him and Gordon Hayward to life.

Bell recorded a season-high nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, while Hayward poured in a season- and team-high 18 points while going 6-for-11 from the field. The duo combined for three made 3-pointers, and their 27 points represented nearly half of the scoring production from the Jazz's starting five (57 points).

In addition, starting point guard Devin Harris dished out a season- and game-high eight assists, while Utah recorded assists on 78.1 percent (25 of 32) of its made field goals.

"When you have five guys on the floor, ideally you want to find out how to get everybody involved, because that just makes more points on the board," Bell said after the win. "[Saturday] was good because we got in transition. … When we can contribute and help Paul [Millsap] and Al [Jefferson] and Devin and those guys carry the load, it just becomes a little lighter for them."

Since speaking out Wednesday about his lack of involvement in the Jazz's system, Bell has responded by playing his two best games of the season.

Asked about sticking by the 35-year-old guard, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said there are many reasons the 12-year veteran has kept his position in the Jazz's lineup.

"You know what, man? He's a tough guy and he's a pro, and he's going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. And that's what I respect about him," Corbin said.

He added: "People don't understand his value, and I really understand his value to this team and how he can help us win. He's done a tremendous job for us."

Big picture

Bell rivals C.J. Miles as the best player on the Jazz's roster in breaking down why the team either succeeds or fails. After watching Utah reel off four consecutive victories following three road blowouts to start the season, Bell put the squad's turnaround in perspective.

"We found out really early that we hadn't paid enough attention to detail and we weren't playing hard enough and we weren't sharing the ball like we should," Bell said. "It took getting blown out a couple times for us to figure that out. And I think we've done a much better job with all of those things as of late."

All clear

Asked about the Jazz's good luck through the first eight games of the season, Corbin sighed and laughed, not wanting to jinx Utah's clean bill of health.

Just Jefferson and Jeremy Evans have missed a game due to injury, and Evans sat out only Utah's win over the Warriors because of a stomach virus.

While many of the Jazz's opponents and premier teams such as Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers have already dealt with injuries to star players, Utah has stayed in the clear thus far during a compressed 66-game season.

Corbin praised the Jazz's training staff for its dedication to detail.

"They're really staying on top of the guys. … And we ask the guys, 'Look, if [you feel] something, let us know sooner than later, so we can get on top of it as soon as we can,' " Corbin said.

Quiet nights

Miles played just 4 minutes, 19 seconds against the Warriors and didn't take the court during the fourth quarter. He ended the game scoreless, shot the ball just three times, and has played only 13 combined minutes during Utah's past two wins.


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