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News » Williams paces Jazz to preseason win

Williams paces Jazz to preseason win

Williams paces Jazz to preseason win PORTLAND, Ore. ? With combo guard Ronnie Price missing a third preseason straight game due to a hamstring strain, it's looking more and more likely Eric Maynor may open the 2009-10 NBA season backing up starter Deron Williams at the point. Just don't expect to see too much of the rookie too soon, Jerry Sloan warns.

"Obviously I think he's done a pretty good job trying to do that," Sloan said Tuesday. "But Deron's going to play more minutes than what he has in the exhibition season," the Jazz coach added, "so you're not looking at him (Maynor) 20 minutes a night like he's been playing." Based on how he's looked so far in the preseason, in fact, it seems as if the Jazz wouldn't want more than a moment or two to go by without Williams on the floor. The 2008 gold medal-winning United States Olympic Team point scored a game-high 27 points in the Jazz's 108-97 exhibition victory Tuesday night over Portland at the Rose Garden, their fifth win in seven preseason games so far. The victory means a third straight exhibition season with a winning record for Utah, which also has had non-losing preseasons for 18 of 19 years including this one ? with a 2-5 mark in 2005 being the lone exception. Williams came into the night averaging 15.7 points and 5.8 assists in 25.7 minutes per game, and ? though Maynor again finished ? he had his flashiest and busiest outing by far in the Jazz's second win of the preseason over Portland. Williams shot 8-for-12 from the field, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range, in 30 minutes. He also hit 9-of-10 from the free-throw line, making him 39-of-41 in the preseason. His need to score ? mostly by driving the lane ? was prompted mostly by Portland's play against the point, and he passed the test with little problem. "He's got pressure out there on him, and he always knows that he's got the opportunity to try to get on top of the basket," Sloan said afterward. "Because you can't just let the guy eat you alive and stay on perimeter all the time. "You've got to let him know you're gonna get around him. Otherwise, he's gonna be chopping you all the way down the floor." "Every time I passed the ball I was getting a turnover, so I didn't want any more turnovers," joked Williams, who did also have four miscues. "They were kind of playing me to go to the basket. Once I figured that out, you know, I thought I had to get to the basket pretty much every time." The Jazz opened with a lineup that could resemble the one they go with when the regular season gets under way next Wednesday night at Denver ? especially if shooting guard Kyle Korver remains unable to play. Korver missed his fifth straight exhibition, and sixth of the preseason, due to continuing inflammation caused by under-the-kneecap cartilage issues in his left knee. Williams opened as usual with Ronnie Brewer at shooting guard, Andrei Kirilenko at small forward, Carlos Boozer at power forward and Mehmet Okur at center. If Korver is good to go next week, it's possible he'd start at shooting guard and last season's starter at the 2, Brewer, would slide to small forward, a position he's played at times this preseason. Brewer had another strong outing Tuesday as well, finishing 6-for-8 from the field and with 16 points. He's hit 14-for-22 over his last three games. NOTES: For a third straight game, Williams played for a stint at shooting guard while Maynor ran the point . . . Okur returned after sitting out Sunday's preseason win over Charlotte due to tightness in his lower back . . . The Jazz plan to make cuts in the next day or two. Utah State product Spencer Nelson and former Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies power forward Alexander Johnson both are expected to go, as is fellow free agent Paul Harris, who has missed all of training camp and the preseason with an ankle sprain . . . It remains to be seen if one of two free agent swingmen in camp, Wesley Matthews and Ronald Dupree, will make the regular-season roster . . . Portland big men Greg Oden (thigh muscle) and LaMarcus Aldridge (knee) both sat out, so free agent and former Jazz big Jarron Collins played 25 minutes off the bench. It's also uncertain if Collins, who had three rebounds and three points all on free throws, will make the Blazers' regular-season roster. e-mail:

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Added: October 22, 2009


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