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News » Jazz put an end to road skid


Jazz put an end to road skid


Jazz put an end to road skid
Memphis, Tenn. ? Somewhere in the back of Deron Williams' mind, Wednesday's loss to Oklahoma City was still festering, driving him as he dragged the Jazz across the finish line to victory over the Memphis Grizzlies and the end of their road losing streak.

"I'm still dwelling on that loss," Williams said. "I'll dwell on that loss all season. There's a lot of losses I'll dwell on. There's losses last year that I'm still dwelling on."

Williams delivered the Jazz to their 101-91 victory over the Grizzlies, finishing with 27 points and 12 assists, playing a marathon 43 minutes, 42 seconds, and leading Utah back to solid ground two days after an embarrassing loss to the NBA-worst Thunder.

In the final four minutes, Williams drove for a layup and drilled a 22-footer and three-pointer as the Jazz held on after leading by 20 in the third quarter. It came at the end of a night in which Williams came out determined to set the tone for his team.

"It's something I'm going to have to do a lot more on the road," Williams said. "We just can't expect everybody on the team to have it every night on the road, so I've got to be the guy that does have it.

"I made a habit of trying to get everybody involved -- and that's great -- but if you get down in the first half, it's tough to come back on the road, so I've got to assert myself early."

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan even opted to play Williams at off guard alongside Brevin Knight to start the second quarter. As much as Williams has voiced his displeasure in the past at playing anything other than point guard, he welcomed the opportunity Friday.

"I told Coach to leave me in last game and play me at the two," Williams said. "I just want to be on the floor right now. When we're struggling, I just want to be on the court. Whether it's two, three, five, I don't care."

The Grizzlies (11-28) might have been the perfect opponent at the perfect time for the Jazz, who won their eighth consecutive game against Memphis, including three this season, and won for the sixth consecutive time at FedEx Forum.

"As much as we've struggled on the road, it wasn't a pretty game in a lot of ways," Sloan said. "But I thought the idea of winning the ballgame was really critical to us to try to break that string of losing."

The Jazz (24-16) snapped a five-game road losing streak dating to their pre-Christmas trip and can salvage this trip with a victory tonight at Dallas. The Mavericks trail the Jazz by 1 1-2 games in the chase for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

"Hopefully this will take a little pressure off of them," Sloan said.

After losing by 21 to the 6-33 Thunder, Knight called the team together in the locker room and spoke of the need to find energy on the road, without the crowd that has helped carry the Jazz to a 16-4 record at EnergySolutions Arena.

The Jazz manufactured that energy Friday in an all but empty arena -- even with a '70s Night promotion -- using a 13-0 run to jump out to a 19-9 lead.

"We've got to create our own energy on the road," Williams said. "Nobody's going to do it for us.'"

Williams hit a three-pointer over 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol to send the Jazz into halftime with a 54-43 lead. He hit 4 of 8 three-pointers for the game, came out for only 1:40 in the second half and finished two points shy of his season high.

The Jazz built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies answered with a 15-2 run that saw Mehmet Okur pick up his fourth foul -- plus a technical on his way to the bench -- and C.J. Miles removed for Kyle Korver.

Even as the Jazz stabilized in the third, with Ronnie Brewer dunking off a Williams pass and Korver hitting a three-pointer, they struggled to finish off the Grizzlies in the fourth, especially with Korver uncharacteristically missing two free throws with 3:41 left.

But Williams came to the rescue. He answered O.J. Mayo's three-point play by pushing the ball for a layup with 3:54 remaining. Then he hit back-to-back jumpers, both of which came with the shot clock running out.

"If it wasn't for him, we probably wouldn't have came away with this win," Brewer said. "He definitely hit some clutch shots for us and it put us over the hump."

rsiler@sltrib.com Jazz 101, Grizzlies 91

In short ? The Jazz regroup after Wednesday's loss to Oklahoma City and end their five-game road skid.

Key moment ? Deron Williams hits back-to-back a 22-footer and a three-pointer to finish off the Grizzlies.

Key stat ? The Jazz have won their last six games in Memphis. Marked improvement

Utah State sophomore forward Matt Formisano fits snugly inside a mold that has produced a long line of solid Aggies post players. D3


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 19, 2009

 

 
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