ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Sure, Deron Williams thinks it's pretty good to be perfect in the preseason, for what that's worth.
Williams and the Utah Jazz feel much better about the way they got to 7-0: with promising play from their starters and two victories over the defending champs.
Al Jefferson scored 13 points in three quarters before leaving with an injured right hand, C.J. Miles added 14 points and the Jazz stayed unbeaten in the preseason with an 82-74 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.
Utah took the temporary court atop the Anaheim Ducks' home ice with its expected starting five for next week's season opener. All five made contributions and worked on their chemistry, taking a lead the Lakers' scrubs couldn't overcome.
"Our first group is playing pretty good," said Williams, who had 10 points and five assists. "The timing is still not there, but for the most part, we played hard and played together. We're in a good position for this point in the season."
Williams sat out the Jazz's back-to-back games at Staples Center last weekend, including Sunday's 99-94 win over the Lakers, with a strained right calf. The star point guard also is expected to skip Utah's preseason finale against Sacramento on Friday, which means this game was the last chance for the starters to work on that chemistry.
Utah is off to its best preseason start in franchise history, but Jefferson winced in agony during the final seconds of the third quarter after apparently injuring his hand while driving to the hoop. The Jazz said he has a bruised knuckle, and Jefferson stayed on the Utah bench for the fourth quarter
Jefferson said he aggravated a bruise on the knuckle of his index finger just above his palm.
"I hurt it the first preseason game, and it never healed because the ball is always going to hit right there," the Utah newcomer said. "I just bent it back real good. I can play with it. It's just something I have to deal with."
Kobe Bryant can relate to that mentality: He led the Lakers to last season's title while playing most of the season with an injured index finger, which still bothers him.
|More on Jazz at Lakers|
Al Jefferson really needs to produce and try to play like Boozer in order for the Jazz to succeed in the Northwest. Read More >>
|Preseason schedule | Facts & Rumors|
Bryant scored seven points on 2-for-13 shooting, missing eight of his nine shots in the third quarter. Two days earlier, Bryant scored 19 points in the third quarter against the Jazz.
Neither set of numbers means anything to the two-time NBA Finals MVP, who was pleased by his unusually short drive back to his Orange County home.
"We're just moving on, game by game, day by day," Bryant said.
Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes scored 13 points apiece for the Lakers, who finish the preseason with back-to-back games against Golden State before beginning their defense of their two NBA titles. Pau Gasol had 11 points while playing 31 minutes.
"We have really good stretches, and we have some where we're not as sharp as we need to be, especially defensively," Gasol said. "Once we clean that up, we'll be fine. The real deal doesn't start until the 26th. That's when we can start making judgments."
The clubs played before a healthy crowd of Orange County fans at Honda Center, which still aspires to have an NBA team as a full-time tenant in the future.
While Utah's starting five purred, the Lakers' starting five went just 5 for 18 while playing most of the first quarter, including a 1-for-5 effort by Gasol and four misses by Derek Fisher. Los Angeles made just 12 of 40 shots in the first half, but trailed only 38-32 after Utah made 10 turnovers in the half.
Steve Blake and Matt Barnes picked up first-half technical fouls for the Lakers, with Blake getting into a scuffle with Utah's Francisco Elson.
Los Angeles pulled within 73-69 using a lineup led by Gasol and four reserves with 3½ minutes to play, but Kyrylo Fesenko and Earl Watson came up with key baskets to maintain Utah's lead.
Lakers F Luke Walton sat out with a strained right hamstring. He hopes to play again in the preseason. ... Utah G Raja Bell had yet another testy night guarding Bryant, who tried to recruit Bell to the Lakers during the offseason. Bell signed with the Jazz, and the Lakers signed Barnes, who scored eight points while playing big minutes in the second half. ... The 6-foot-3 Blake didn't hesitate to mix it up with the 7-foot Elson, earning dual technicals. "For some reason, I always get into it with the big guys," Blake said. "It's fun. It gets me going."
|Utah 7-0 «||24||14||23||21||82|
|L.A. Lakers 2-3||14||18||18||24||74|