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News » Jazz shake slump, romp past Thunder

Jazz shake slump, romp past Thunder

Jazz shake slump, romp past Thunder
It certainly doesn't atone for what happened 2 1/2 weeks ago in Oklahoma City.

That Jan. 14 road loss set the Jazz back, spawning a tailspin in which Utah -- winners of four in a row at the time -- lost six of eight games including, most recently, four straight.

But a 110-90 rematch victory over the Thunder on Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena may prove to be some much-needed Italian wedding soup for a rather drained Jazz soul.

"We hope so," power forward Paul Millsap said when asked, essentially, if he thought it could be.

"We're tired of losing," he added. "We're not used to losing, and guys in here, we've been really down."

Snapping their season-worst losing skid and avoiding their longest since dropping six straight in December of 2007, though, may be all coach Jerry Sloan's 26-21 club needs to remember just how far a little unity can go.

And 32 assists on 44 field goals further attests to that.

"We really shared the ball," center Mehmet Okur said.

"Everybody looked for each other out there and created open shots for each other."

"We're a good team when we pass the ball, we share the ball, we make extra passes," added point guard Deron Williams, who personally delivered a game-high 12 assists. "It was evident. A lot of guys passed up good shots to get better ones. That's something we should do every game. I don't know why we can't, and why we get away from it. But it's what we've got to have."

It is, especially with All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer (arthroscopic knee surgery) missing his 35th straight game and sixth man Andrei Kirilenko (ankle surgery performed Friday) both likely out until sometime after the mid-February NBA All-Star Game break.

"We need a great effort out of everybody," said a pleased Sloan, whose Jazz are now 9-0 at home when scoring 110 points or more.

"We can't play the game casual. We're not deep enough and not talented enough," he added. "Everybody's got to hold their own. At times we're not as big as we should be and we'd like to be, and we have to try to make up for it in hustle."

The Jazz did just that Friday, getting an additional team-high 24 points from Williams and double-figures scoring from fellow starters Okur (20), Millsap (16), C.J. Miles and Ronnie Brewer (15 apiece).

Utah jumped to a 64-51 lead by the break, just eight shy of matching their season-high for points in a half, and led by as many as 24 when Okur hit a long jumper with just less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter.

Oklahoma City did briefly cut that to 15 early in the fourth, prompting Sloan to grudgingly re-insert starters Williams, Millsap and Okur -- he much rather would have saved them for tonight's game at Portland -- in place of Brevin Knight, Brewer and Kyrylo Fesenko.

The Thunder even got it to 13 with about eight minutes to go, but a Kyle Korver jumper sparked a 6-0 burst that put Oklahoma City (11-36) away.

"It's the type of game we've got to have from everybody," Williams said. "It was just that everybody's energy was up. I think we fed off each other, we rotated well, we shared the ball well. And it's contagious, you know?"

It is as well, and the Jazz can only hope that catchy attitude sticks when they visit Trail Blazers tonight.

Utah still is ninth in the NBA's Western Conference standings and one position out of a playoff spot, but a victory tonight could go a long way toward legitimizing the notion the Jazz really can reverse their woeful ways.

"We'll see (tonight) how we bounce back," Williams said.

"We've got to put together a bunch of wins," he added. "You know, we had four wins at home in a row, and then I thought we were going to turn it around, and we lost to them. So, we've got a ways to go. When we're in eighth again, that's when we can start talking." E-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 1, 2009


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