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News » Utah Jazz ends 4-game skid, avenges earlier blowout loss


Utah Jazz ends 4-game skid, avenges earlier blowout loss


Utah Jazz ends 4-game skid, avenges earlier blowout loss
From the moment he learned that Andrei Kirilenko would be lost to ankle surgery, Deron Williams stressed that the Jazz would need contributions from everybody just to survive the coming weeks with both Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer out.

He couldn't have drawn it up any better as the Jazz snapped their four-game losing streak Friday night and avenged a crushing 21-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month with a 110-90 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.

The Jazz led by as many as 24 and saw all five starters score in double figures by the end of the third quarter. Williams led with 24 points and 12 assists, Mehmet Okur had 20 points and Paul Millsap totaled 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

"This is the type of games we've got to have from everybody," Williams said. "You know, just everybody's energy was up. I think we fed off each other, we rotated well, we shared the ball well, and that's contagious."

It was only the first of seven games that the Jazz can expect to play without Kirilenko and Boozer before the All-Star break. Williams wanted to reserve judgment until the Jazz play the second game of a back-to-back set tonight at Portland.

"We'll see tomorrow how we bounce back," Williams said. "We haven't done too well with back-to-backs lately, so this is going to be a tough one against a division opponent. Last time we had the same situation against Denver, we didn't come out with any energy."

Whatever hopes Williams, Okur and Millsap had of calling it an early night Friday ended in the fourth quarter. The Jazz missed four shots and came up empty on three possessions, watching a 20-point lead shrink to 97-82 with 8:55 left.

That was enough for Jerry Sloan to bring back his three starters. The last thing he wanted to see was a lead dwindle to single digits against the Thunder, who nearly erased a 31-point lead Nov. 7 in what proved to be Sloan's 1,000th victory as Jazz coach.

"We took two or three shots there and had three or four possessions, we didn't get anything," Sloan said. "You let that happen a couple, three times and that's enough to get a team back in the game because they've got the ability to shoot three-point shots."

Even so, Williams said he "tried to act like I didn't hear coach when he said my name" to go back in the game.

Williams and Okur didn't exit for good until 2:39 remained, after Williams served up an alley-oop dunk to Ronnie Brewer to make it 109-88. Millsap's night wasn't finished until Kyrylo Fesenko replaced him with 49.8 seconds left.

As long as Kirilenko and Boozer are out, the Jazz will have to expect the unexpected. Okur and Fesenko played together in the same lineup to start the second quarter. Matt Harpring guarded Kevin Durant (29 points) for a stretch as well.

The Jazz broke open a tied game with a 15-2 run in the second quarter and went into halftime in control 64-51 as Jarron Collins, forgotten on an inbounds play, cut for a layup. It was only his second basket of the season.

"I thought he did a great job tonight," said Williams, before quickly turning sarcastic, "came in with a lot of energy, a lot of athleticism, powered that up there."

The Thunder (11-36) had won eight of their previous 14 games -- the Jazz were 7-7 by comparison -- but Utah was able to avenge their embarrassing 114-93 loss in Oklahoma City on Jan. 14 and drop the Thunder to 3-19 on the road.

Okur, Williams and C.J. Miles hit three-pointers early in the third quarter as the Jazz stretched their lead. Miles converted a steal into a dunk and Okur had a three-point play at Jeff Green's expense as the Jazz built an 84-60 lead with 6:50 left in the quarter.

There was even a lighthearted moment in the fourth quarter as Kyle Korver beaned Fesenko in the head with a pass intended for Harpring. On the way downcourt, Korver said Fesenko plaintively asked: "Kyle, why?"

The true test, however, will come tonight. The Jazz are 1-10 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season and trail Portland by three games in the division.

"We need a great effort out of everybody," Sloan said. "We can't play the game casual. We're not deep enough, we're not talented enough. Everybody's got to hold their own."

rsiler@sltrib.com Jazz 110, Thunder 90

In short ? The Jazz lead by as many as 24 in the third quarter en route to snapping their four-game losing streak.

Key stat ? The Jazz record 32 assists on 44 field goals, more than twice as many as the Thunder.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 2, 2009

 

 
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