Miles, Williams lead Jazz past Nuggets
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The NBA’s replacement referees were a non-issue in the preseason opener, just as the league wanted.
Whether it was preseason indifference or players and coaches heeding to the league warning to be nice to the new officials, there wasn’t much of a reaction to the crew of Tre Maddox, Deldre Carr and C.J. Washington.
“They’ll have a month to get ready for the season, just like we will,” Denver coach George Karl said. “They’ll learn some stuff. Right now, I don’t see it being a problem.”
Karl seemed less concerned with the officiating than he was with the Nuggets’ mistakes in the preseason opener. Denver had 27 turnovers and was outrebounded 44-37.
The Nuggets were also called for 39 fouls to the Jazz’s 30. Other than the quantity of calls, there was not much to note about the officiating as the league called upon replacements during its lockout with the referees union.
Players mostly shook their heads and smiled after the whistle until the third quarter, when Utah coach Jerry Sloan had a mini-outburst after Paul Millsap(notes) was called for fouling Carmelo Anthony(notes). Sloan leaped out of his seat, barked a few statements at Carr and sat right back down.
“All refs are going to make good calls, make bad calls, miss a few, make a few. That’s just the nature of the beast,” said Denver’s Chauncey Billups(notes), who had 10 points and three assists. “It just really comes down to personality.”
The league warned teams Wednesday about publicly criticizing the officials. There was scarcely of that Thursday as the Jazz and the Nuggets plodded through the exhibition looking little as if the Northwest Division rivals they will be once again when the regular season begins.
Deron Williams(notes) and C.J. Miles(notes) scored 16 apiece to lead the Jazz and Williams added six assists in 21 minutes. Mehmet Okur(notes) had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Jazz, who used 16 players and got at least two points from each of them.
“I thought it was a good first game for us. We did a lot of things well,” Williams said. “There’s definitely some things we can look at and say we can do better, but for a first preseason game, I thought we did well.”
Utah’s Carlos Boozer(notes) has seven points and seven rebounds in his first game since comments about potential trades over the summer to Chicago and Miami. Boozer was still cheered in the introductions, just not as loud as his teammates.
“I had a great reception from the fans. I was happy about that,” Boozer said. “I want to continue to earn their respect and earn their trust again.”
Anthony led the Nuggets with 13 points.
The Nuggets trimmed a 17-point lead to eight at halftime and got within five in the third quarter before the Jazz pulled away to another big lead. Williams hit his second 3-pointer of the period to put Utah up 78-63 and the Jazz led 84-71 entering the fourth, when Utah’s reserves held off Denver’s backups.
“We scored our points after they came at us and put some pressure on us,” Sloan said. “I liked the way we responded.”
NOTES: The Jazz leave Saturday on a European tour that includes games in London and Madrid. … The Nuggets had nine turnovers in the first quarter. … Denver’s Anthony Carter(notes) was the only player to get in the game and not score, but did have five assists for the Nuggets. … Miles was 5 for 7 from the field.