The Utah Jazz are off to a hot start and can thank their bench for making it happen.
The Jazz (2-0) look to open the season with three straight wins for the second time in three seasons when they host the Golden State Warriors at the Delta Center on Saturday night.
A team that has struggled with depth in the past, Utah is getting stellar play from its reserves early in the season. The Jazz rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter en route to a 108-104 win in Phoenix on Friday.
“I’m going to tell you what happened. The bench came in and gave us a big boost,” said Boozer, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds. “It gave us energy and they’re the ones that got us back in the game.”
Utah finished the game on a 13-3 run and got a spark when coach Jerry Sloan went to his bench in the second half and helped the Jazz get back in a game where they committed 18 turnovers.
“They kind of quit on me for a little bit there,” Sloan said. “We had a stretch where we didn’t look like we wanted to win the game.”
The Jazz got 31 points from their reserves in Wednesday’s 107-97 win over Houston. Utah’s bench averaged 31.0 points last season, but has more experienced depth from players like Fisher, acquired in a July trade from Golden State. He scored 18 points Friday, and Harping added 17.
Like the Jazz, Golden State (1-1) got plenty of help from its bench in a 102-98 home-opening win over Portland on Friday. Mickael Pietrus had 16 points and a matched a career high with 10 rebounds for Golden State for his second career double-double.
Pietrus, who started in Golden State’s 110-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, was fine with coach Don Nelson for believing he is best suited coming off the bench. The four-year veteran has an 8.1 career scoring average.
“I said before, Coach has 1,000 wins and I might have 96, maybe,” Pietrus said. “We have respect for what he does for this team.”
The Warriors had six players in double figures Friday, led by Baron Davis’ 17. The win was Golden State’s seventh straight over Portland since January 2005.
Golden State has not been too fortunate against Utah. The Jazz went 3-1 last season against the Warriors, including a 105-102 home win in their most recent meeting on Apr. 19 when Boozer scored 26 points and had 11 rebounds.
Boozer also had 19 rebounds in Utah’s 117-108 overtime win at Golden State on Feb. 27.