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News » Jazz finish February with flurry of success

Jazz finish February with flurry of success

Jazz finish February with flurry of success
They finished February 10-1. They have won seven straight games. And four victories in a row have come since the death of franchise owner Larry H. Miller. Yet even after they beat the Sacramento Kings 102-89 Saturday night on the same EnergySolutions Arena floor where Miller's funeral was held just hours earlier, coach Jerry Sloan expects more from his Jazz. Much more.

"I've always been proud of these guys, for the most part," Sloan said of a 36-23 club that remains seventh in the NBA's Western Conference ? but with the victory and a Rockets loss Saturday moves to within just one game of fourth-place Houston. "I get upset with them, just like you would with your family at times. "But," he added, "they have to always expect more out of themselves. When they're satisfied with being this and that, that's where you have to dig in a little bit deeper and try to get a little more out of yourself. You'll surprise yourself many, many times when you do that." The Jazz may have been a bit shocked to see the 13-48 Kings, a club that hasn't won consecutive games since November, hanging around late like they were. But a career-high 26 points from shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, 26 more from center Mehmet Okur a 16-point and 11-assist double-double from point guard Deron Williams helped take care of that, as did an 11-0 fourth-quarter run that blew open a one-point game. Brewer had six points during the run, including a 3-pointer to kickstart it, a fastbreak dunk fed by Kyle Korver and a free throw. By the time the burst was done Utah led 91-79, barely more than five minutes remained and the Jazz were well on their way to sweeping a series with the Kings for the first time since the 1996-97 season. "It was good," Brewer said, "that we had a run when we did." Because by then, the Jazz were emotionally drained. "After the game I had to look at the time to see what time it was," Brewer said, "because it (felt) like 11 or 12 o'clock at night." Yet it wasn't even 9:30 p.m. yet. "A lot of us had a long day, an emotional day," Brewer said. "So, I'm just glad we got the win. "I think we're playing all on emotions right now - just from hearing the news, and having the funeral today," he added. "It was kind of weird day, because a lot of people went to the funeral, and it kind of messed up the routine around game day. But ? you have to come ready to play, and I just tried to find some energy somewhere." Ditto for Okur, who hit 9-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range. "I'm just feeling good right now," he said. "I'm shooting with a lot of confidence right now, and my teammates are doing (a) great job just creating open shots for me." Okur, too, felt depleted. "We've been through a tough few days, but life still goes on," he said. "We've got to look forward to play(ing) night in and night out. "That's just part of life. You have to deal with those things. Do the best you can. I was proud of our players to be able to do that," Sloan added with reference to winning while still mourning. "We didn't play a perfect game, but the idea is to try to go win the Basketball game and understand the circumstances you're playing under. This is not an easy business, and things like what's happened ? we have no control over that. We just have to go about our business, and hopefully keep our mind on (that). For the Jazz, that means focusing on tonight's visit to Golden State. It's one, though, that will be made with the memories from one truly long week still quite fresh. "It was fun to hear about the different things his kids and his grandkids were talking about, just to show you the kind of man he really was," Korver said. "He was a whole lot more than just 'the Jazz.' " "I know they're grieving right now," Brewer added with reference to the Miller family, "but I know he's going to be in a better place, so I know they're happy." E-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 2, 2009


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