Utah has been one of the surprise teams in the NBA thus far with six wins in its first seven games, including three straight road victories against Golden State, Denver and Charlotte. The Jazz have scored 100 points six times in seven games after doing so just six times all of last season.
Utah overcame a 22-point deficit Tuesday to beat the expansion Bobcats 107-105.
“We try to play for respect,” said forward Carlos Boozer, who scored 34 points. “A lot of teams don’t respect us, (coach) Jerry (Sloan) has warned us about that.”
That’s because Utah’s impressive start has included wins against lowly Golden State and Denver (twice).
“When we do the right things, we can be a good team,” said Raja Bell, who scored 21—including five critical points in the waning moments—to lift the Jazz.
Bell made a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left and hit two clutch free throws.
Utah’s offense got an added left on Tuesday as point guard Carlos Arroyo returned to the lineup after missing the first six games of the season with a sprained left ankle. Arroyo averaged 10.7 points and 5.1 assists in seven preseason games, then sprained his ankle and went on the injured list Nov. 1.
Watching the Jazz move out to a 5-1 start without him might have sped up his recovery.
“The team is playing very well, and I want to be a part of it,” Arroyo said. “I feel good and I am ready to go.”
The Magic began the season 2-1 but have since lost two of their last three games. Grant Hill continued his impressive comeback with 18 points and eight rebounds in Orlando’s 96-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Hill, who missed most of the last three seasons with ankle injuries, is averaging 18.9 points on 49.2 percent shooting and is pulling down 6.3 rebounds a game.