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News » Banged up Jazz get best of Blazers

Banged up Jazz get best of Blazers

Banged up Jazz get best of Blazers Soaring toward the end of November as they have been, the Jazz seem to have come to the realization they perhaps can be really good this season. Too bad for them they may not have anyone left for December. Utah thumped the Portland Trail Blazers 108-92 Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena, getting a 26-point, 12-rebound double-double from power forward Carlos Boozer and a 24-point, 15-assist double from point guard Deron Williams. The 9-7 Jazz's second straight win and fifth in their last six outings came, however, with a cost.

Their bench took a beating. Backup small forward Andrei Kirilenko and backup power forward Paul Millsap, both rotation regulars and key contributors, exited with injuries in the first half. Neither Kirilenko, who strained his back, nor Millsap, who bumped his left knee, is expected to be out more than a few days. But with their already injury-decimated lineup down to nine players for much of the month and at 10 Saturday night, it's a good thing for the Jazz they already were well on their way to a blowout win when both left with just less than four minutes to go in the second quarter. Jumping quick on a 12-7 Blazers team that lost Friday at home to Memphis, the Jazz led by as many as 15 during an opening quarter in which they shot 76.5 percent from the field (13-for-17) and dished 11 of their season-high 36 assists. "We were active at the beginning," center Mehmet Okur, "because we knew they played (Friday) night, and we just wanted to run the floor, be active, and it worked out for us. "We executed," Okur added. "We played our type of Basketball: Whoever was open, we just swinged the ball and found the wide-open man." They did, with tremendous frequency. "We really passed the Basketball," coach Jerry Sloan said after his Jazz matched their highest assists total from last season. "When you pass the Basketball and share with each other," he added, "it makes the game a lot easier to play." So much so it looked like cake on Saturday. Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the half to put Utah up by 12 at 55-43, and the Jazz's lead ? which soared to as high as 27 when Williams hit an 18-footer to make it 94-67 early in the fourth quarter ? never dipped below double digits after that. "We're getting our rhythm back," Williams said, "(and) defensively we're getting stops and putting teams away." "DWill (Williams) got us started, man. He came out, looked for everybody," Boozer added. "Obviously we come out and knocked down shots, (were) confident with our jump shots. But DWill got us going early, getting everybody set up, and then we ran off from there." Williams' niftiest assist came when he drove baseline and dropped one behind his head to Boozer, who scored for an 86-66 Jazz lead late in the third quarter. Boozer had his 26 by the end of the third, marking the second straight game he's had 26 through three periods. Williams, though, wasn't the only one delivering with flair. Rookie Eric Maynor tossed one to Ronnie Brewer for a fastbreak alleyoop dunk that brought Williams up off the bench in the first half, and Brewer dropped one for Okur to finish a fastbreak initiated by a Brewer steal early in the fourth. Utah converted a season-high 68.6 percent in the first half and wound up shooting 60.6 percent (43-for-71) from the field, marking a second straight game in the 60-percent range ? the first time since a pair of early 1995 victories over Minnesota and Denver that it's done that. And with that they headed to their final game of November ? a Monday meeting with Memphis, their fifth in a six-game homestand ? feeling awfully good about themselves. Even if they are hurting. "We're still shorthanded. We're still missing key pieces to our team," Boozer said, referencing long-term injuries to perimeter players C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Price. "But we're still winning games. So, for us, if we can continue to win while we get healthy, we have a chance to be very good. "I think we're heading in the right direction to be a great team in this (Western Conference)," he added, "and we're looking forward ... to getting better." NOTES: Williams had his double-double at the half, with 13 points and 10 assists through two quarters. Eight of his assists came in the first quarter alone. ... Boozer is 40-for-56 from the field ? 71 percent ? in his last four games. ... Backup center Kyrylo Fesenko returned after missing one game and a practice due to a stomach virus. He finished with nine points in 14 minutes. ... The home team has now won each of the last eight meetings in the Jazz -Blazers series. e-mail:

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Added: November 30, 2009


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