The Jazz opened the season with their star point guard on the bench with a sprained ankle and beat the Nuggets 98-94 on Wednesday night.
Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur dominated inside enough that it didn't matter much who was getting them the ball. Boozer had 25 points and 14 rebounds and Okur scored 13 and pulled down 10 boards for Utah.
The Jazz outrebounded Denver 46-35 and held off several rallies down the stretch by going 13-for-16 from the foul line in the final period and won their season opener for the sixth year in a row.
Williams has been out since spraining his ankle in an exhibition game on Oct. 18.
"He'll be back and he'll certainly be the great player we know he is," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We had a little bit of luck and a couple things bounced our way."
Denver rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie it in the fourth quarter, but gave the Jazz an extra free throw with 12 seconds left on a lane violation.
"We had opportunities to win the game. we just couldn't get it done," said Allen Iverson, had 18 points and eight assists to lead the Nuggets.
Anthony was not with the team as he served the first of a two-game suspension from a DUI arrest over the summer. He averaged 26 points and seven rebounds last season and would have been a big help to the Nuggets, who lost their fourth straight to Utah.
"We didn't have a hot player. We didn't have anyone give the offense some juice or some life," Denver coach George Karl said.
Sloan has been using Kirilenko as a reserve while Matt Harpring recovers from an infection that developed after ankle surgery. The experiment has worked so far and Kirilenko was 6-foor-9 from the field and added three assists, two blocks and a steal.
"Right now we've got to try to mix and match and do whatever we can to try to win," Sloan said. "He keeps you on your toes and he sees things before they develop."
Price was making just the fifth start of his career and led the offense well enough as Williams watched in street clothes from the bench. Williams is still listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against the Clippers, but Price reassured the Jazz that Williams doesn't need to hurry back.
Korver tipped a steal to Price, who flipped a pass behind his back to Kirilenko for a dunk to put Utah up 86-82.
"That was just a reaction," Price said. "I saw him breaking and the quickest way I could get him the ball was that way and it worked."
Nene, who scored 11, converted a three-point play to get the Nuggets within 89-88 with 1:05 left. The Nuggets almost forced a turnover, but Boozer called time out after falling to the court, then hit a short baseline jumper to put Utah ahead 93-90 with 19 seconds left.
After a layup by Iverson with 15 seconds left, Korver went to line for two free throws. He made the first, but had a rare miss on the second that was nullified on a lane violation by Chris Andersen. Korver made his third attempt and the Jazz led 95-92.
"Referees will tell you they make calls no matter what time of the game it is," Iverson said. "It was tough. Put that guy back on the line and give him another shot, he's not going to miss that."
- Williams, Boozer and Anthony were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team.
- The Jazz had four assists in the first quarter and not one was from a guard.
- Okur broke up an alley-oop from Iverson to Martin, tipping the ball away before Martin could get to it for a dunk during an 8-0 run for the Jazz in the third quarter.
- Denver exercised the fourth year option on forward Renaldo Balkman earlier Wednesday.