The Indiana Pacers will testify that the Utah Jazz suffered no ill effects from the extended layoff that had coach Jerry Sloan so worried.

"Sometimes you think that with six (actually, five) days rest it could be a negative, but obviously they were real sharp," said Pacers coach Larry Brown.Obvious, as in 117-95 Jazz, Wednesday night at the Delta Center against an Indiana team with the sixth-best record in the NBA.

"If we'd have played great, I don't think we'd have been able to come in here (and win) the way they played tonight," Brown said. "They're the best team we've played."

The Jazz, winners of eight in a row, are clearly on a roll. In seasons past, this might have been a game where Utah struggled, coming as it did after an 11-day road trip, followed by a long layoff during the Christmas holidays. And there did seem to be cause for worry, after a couple of practices that Karl Malone described as "terrible . . . probably the worst two days of practice this team has had."

"Jerry was chewing on his nails pretty good during the game worrying about it," said Jazz forward Tom Chambers, "but I think everybody understood the situation and we really dug down and played well."

"Coaches worry too much," summed up Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek.

Brown started worrying early in this game. His team shot 60 percent in the first quarter, yet was down by four, 30-26. Then they shot 71.4 percent in the second quarter but trailed by 18 at the half, 67-49.

Jazz veterans Malone and John Stockton opened the game strong, setting the tone for everyone else. Malone scored 12 in that first period, Stockton 10.

"We were all hyped up that Karl was so focused," said Utah's Antoine Carr. "He and John had that intensity, so the rest of us had no choice but to turn it up."

The second quarter was a marvel. In passing the ball about as well as an NBA team can, the Jazz totaled 12 assists. They also committed just two turnovers and hit 15 of 21 shots in scoring 37 points.

"Tonight's game was an indication of how our guys are unselfish," said Hornacek after the team's 34-assist effort. "Guys had open 15-footers but passed it inside for two-footers instead."

If this sounds like a team that is playing well and enjoying the feeling, you're starting to get the picture. The Jazz didn't do everything right Wednesday, but it sure looked that way to the Pacers.

"They did everything that good teams do," Brown said. "They have a lot of guys playing at a high level."

The last chance Indiana had to get back in the game was at the start of the second half. A run there and they might have made it a contest. The Jazz gave them a small opening by making just one of their first six shots, but then went on an 8-0 run and the Pacers went into meltdown mode. They trailed by as much as 29 in the fourth quarter, as Malone, Stockton and Hornacek watched from the bench.

There were some interesting sidelights, however, including:

- Malone, upset with a second first-quarter foul, flipping an official's jacket off the scorers' table, spilling the contents of a coffee cup all over broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley's papers.

- A poke-in-the-eye flagrant foul by Indiana's LaSalle Thompson on Utah's Bryon Russell that sent Russell to the bench for most of the first quarter and all of the second. Russell started for the injured David Benoit (ankle), and when he went out, Sloan tried Adam Keefe and Tom Chambers at small forward. Chambers responded with perhaps his best game of the season - 10 points (5 of 6), four assists, four steals. Russell is OK.

- Another flagrant foul, this one by Indiana center Rik Smits on Malone, that led to a shouting match between Brown and Jazz owner Larry Miller (who, by the way, was wearing a tie for the first time in anyone's memory). In a TV interview, Brown expressed a certain lack of respect for Miller, which no doubt will cause the auto tycoon to lose a lot of sleep.

Six Jazz players scored in double figures. Hornacek led with 22 (7 of 13 shots), Malone had 21, Stockton 18 (12 assists), Carr 11, Chambers and rookie Jamie Watson 10 each. Watson hit the first three-pointer of his career, then made another a couple minutes later, as the Jazz knocked down 8 of 12 from the arc.

Reggie Miller led the Pacers with 18, Byron Scott scored 16 and Sam Mitchell 15.

Utah has now won 17 of 21. Their record is 19-8, putting them two games ahead of the world champion Houston Rockets, who make their first Delta Center appearance of the season Friday.

GAME NOTES: Traditionally a good December team, the Jazz were also 19-8 at this point the past two years . . . Utah is now 11-1 against Eastern Conference teams.