NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Fighting for one of the last playoffs spot in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz couldn’t afford to be tired a day after losing a four-overtime game in Atlanta.
Paul Millsap had 24 points and 13 rebounds, Al Jefferson added 19 points and eight rebounds and the Jazz shook off the disappointment and fatigue from the night before to beat the Nets 105-84 Monday night.
“I felt I was ready to play,” Jefferson said. “That game was tough, but we lost and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The way we could get over that game was to come and win this one, and I think that’s what we did.”
The win was the seventh time in eight games for Utah and kept it in seventh place in the conference playoff hunt with Denver and Houston, who also have 27-23 records after wins on Monday night.
“This is a key (win) for us,” Millsap said. “We in the bottom four. We’re contesting with all the other teams. Every win counts.”
Alec Burks added 15 points for the Jazz, who used an 18-4 fourth-quarter run to lock up the game after New Jersey cut a 21-point deficit to three.
Gerald Green led the Nets with 20 points. Deron Williams added 17 points and 11 assists against his former teammates on 7 of 21 shooting. Rookie Jordan Williams added a career-high 13 points.
“Our team is coming on late,” said Millsap, who scored 19 points in the second half. “We’ve shown growth, especially tonight when they cut it to three. You know there was no sense of shock or alarm, just a sense of urgency, like we got to go, we got to push out before this game gets any closer.”
Trailing by 21 early in the third quarter, the Nets got back in the game with a 26-12 spurt that closed the gap 72-65 after three quarters.
Deron Williams helped close the gap to three points with an assist on an alley-oop and a jumper to make it 72-69 with 11 minutes to go.
After that it was all Utah. Jefferson hit a 10-footer, Millsap followed with a three-point play after Green missed two free throws and former Net Devin Harris hit a jumper for a 79-69 lead.
After Kris Humphries scored his first two points of the game on free throws, C.J. Mills scored a basket, Burks hit two free throws and Jefferson and Millsap scored inside to push the lead to double digits.
“The old Jazz would have put their heads down and let them get away with the game,” Jefferson said. “This will show you how well we are playing now, to bounce back from last night and when they made their run and cut it to three, we still stayed on what we were doing and took over the game. That shows you how much we have grown as a team.”
Deron Williams was impressed and said he believes Utah will get back to the playoffs after missing out last season.
“They closed us out,” Williams said. “They are a good team, a playoff team. They did a good job of refocusing and blowing it open.”
The Nets made things easy for the Jazz in the first half, making 12 baskets, shooting roughly 31 percent from the field and scoring 32 points, two more than their season low for the first half.
After seeing all of his starters play almost 50 minutes in the 139-133 loss against Atlanta, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin spread the minutes around in the half with reserves Derrick Favors and DeMarre Carroll and Burks playing as much as his starters.
Spreading the time helped, as the Jazz got 26 points from their starters and 23 from the bench, taking a 49-32 halftime lead.
NOTES: With injuries to Gs Jordan Farmar (groin) and Anthony Morrow (shoulder) the Nets dressed 10 players for the game. … Jazz G Raja Bell went to Florida to have his knee examined. … The game was the first in New Jersey for Harris and Derrick Favors since they were traded to Utah last season in the deal that brought Deron Williams to New Jersey. Harris finished with nine points and 11 assists. Favors had four points and five rebounds. …Deron Williams has 17 double-doubles with points and assists. He trails only Steve Nash (22) in that category.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)