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News » Jazz struggle to win eighth straight 2009-03-02


Jazz struggle to win eighth straight 2009-03-02


Jazz struggle to win eighth straight 2009-03-02
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Utah Jazz's leading scorer in their eighth straight win didn't play in the fourth quarter. Their point guard counterbalanced his stellar playmaking with awful shooting, and their star power forward didn't do much at all.

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Yes, Utah's three-week winning streak might have been in serious jeopardy if the Golden State Warriors had been trying as hard as possible to end it.

Mehmet Okur scored 23 points, Deron Williams had a season-high 20 assists and Utah beat the voluntarily short-handed Warriors 112-104 Sunday night.

Golden State rested leading scorer Stephen Jackson as part of coach Don Nelson's unorthodox plan to give more playing time to his youngsters, and the Jazz capitalized by throttling the Warriors' offense late. Utah hasn't lost since receiving a 20-point thrashing from the Warriors in Oakland three weeks ago, and the Jazz hung on in the rematch with defense.

Ronnie Brewer scored 21 points one night after getting a career-high 26 for the Jazz, who moved within two games of Northwest Division-leading Denver. Their effort produced surprising raves from hard-to-please coach Jerry Sloan, who loved his team's resilience.

"By my standards, it's a good win, but boy, they've got some nice young players they're working with," said Sloan, who gave his biggest praise to Golden State rookie Anthony Randolph.

"Randolph was a live wire out there," Sloan added. "He had maybe two or three blocks in a row, and it looked like we were going to cave in, but fortunately we stayed in there and kept our composure and ended up winning the ballgame."

Corey Maggette scored 27 points and Randolph had a career-high 20 for the Warriors, who also are resting Monta Ellis' surgically repaired left ankle for at least two weeks as a precaution. Jamal Crawford, who wasn't allowed to play in Golden State's loss to Charlotte two nights earlier, scored 20 points in the Warriors' fourth loss in five games.

Nelson's plan left his fans scratching their heads, but the Warriors still stuck with Utah until the final minutes. Nelson blamed the loss on Golden State's season-high 25 turnovers - an ironic high without Jackson, whose 188 turnovers in 48 games are nearly twice as many as any of his teammates this season.

"We usually do a really good job in that area," said Nelson, who plans to give paid furloughs to veterans on Golden State's upcoming four-game road trip as well. "I thought about half of them were unforced, trying to thread the needle."

Utah took the lead late in the third quarter on a layup by Carlos Boozer, who managed just 10 points and nine rebounds. The Jazz made up for it with five other players in double figures, including 17 apiece from Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap. Okur led Utah in scoring for the fifth time in six games despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

Williams scored just six points, but had 16 assists in the first three quarters alone, matching his season high and equaling the entire Golden State roster. Utah won without making a field goal in the final 3:06, holding the high-scoring Warriors to five points in the final 6:15.

"My offensive game didn't feel too good today, "Williams said. "Driving to the basket, I was getting my shot blocked. My jumper didn't feel right, so I just tried to give my teammates the ball, distribute the ball.

"They want you to play their game and they want you to get into their tempo, and I thought we played our best when we were getting out and running. They're not a very good defensive transition team, and we were able to exploit that."

Jackson averaged 27.3 points per game during an outstanding February, but the captain and emotional leader watched the game in street clothes.

At least he was replaced intriguingly by Randolph, the 14th overall pick from LSU who has shown flashes of impressive play all season.

In an electric stretch of the third quarter, Randolph blocked a layup attempt by Williams, grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic to earn two free throws, and threw down an alley-oop from Kelenna Azubuike for a rim-bending dunk to surpass his previous career high.

"I just want to keep on building and not get too excited," Randolph said. "We still lost the game, but I just want to stay consistent for the rest of the year."

Notes

John Stockton had 20 assists 35 times in his career, while Williams has four 20-assist games. Rickey Green is the only other Utah guard to get that many, doing it once. ... Randolph blocked a dunk attempt by Boozer in the first quarter, but replays showed Randolph stuck his hand up through the hoop to do it. Not even Boozer knew it at the time, however. ... Ellis sat out his third straight game with stiffness in his ankle, injured in an offseason accident on a motorized scooter.


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

 

 
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