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Jazz pick up tempo, cruise by Warriors

OAKLAND, Calif. — Just get going.

Whether it's Keith McLeod, who made his second straight start Friday night, or rookie Deron Williams, who again backed up McLeod, or even veteran journeyman Milt Palacio, who played a good bit after Williams got into early foul trouble, that's all Jazz coach Jerry Sloan really wants from his point guard.

Just get the Jazz offense going.

"We can't play at a snail's pace all the time, by walking the ball up the floor," Sloan said.

"If you (quickly get into the offense on transition) on a consistent basis it puts a lot more pressure on the defense," he added, "and keeps our big guys from just kind of sauntering down the road."

On Friday, McLeod and Williams saw that the Jazz picked up where they left off with Wednesday's season-opening win over Dallas. The two helped Utah to beat Golden State 91-85 in its road opener, and exit with a swagger rather than merely saunter away.

With the win, Sloan moves ahead of Bill Fitch and alone into fifth place on the NBA's all-time coaching victories list with 945. The 18-season Jazz coach now trails only leader Lenny Wilkens (1,315), Don Nelson (1,190), Pat Riley (1,110) and still-active New York Knicks coach Larry Brown (987).

Sloan, figuring there was no reason to mess up a good thing, started the same five he did in Utah's 93-82 win over Dallas, with McLeod accompanied by shooting guard Gordan Giricek, small forward Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur at power forward and center Greg Ostertag.

McLeod got the call despite Wednesday's heroics by Williams, who scored 18 in his NBA debut and played the whole fourth quarter as the Jazz rallied to beat the Mavericks.

That was fine by undrafted McLeod, who has no trouble dealing with all the hype surrounding the Jazz's heir apparent at the point.

"That's Deron. I'm happy for him," McLeod said of Williams, the No. 3 overall selection in last June's NBA Draft. "He's my teammate, and I support him 100 percent.

"You know me — I'm not a big media guy, or trying to be in the limelight. I just go out and try to do my job."

McLeod, a soft-spoken professional, also is not one to make a fuss even if Sloan had opted to go the other way.

"If he feels like me starting off the game will help the team get out to a good start or help us get into the offense or whatever," he said, "then that's fine with me.

"If he feels like there's another guy he wants to start that will help us get off to a better start," added McLeod, a third-year pro who started 47 of his 53 games for the Jazz last season, "then that's what we'll do."

In Friday's opening quarter against the Warriors, McLeod did his job, for the most part accomplishing what Sloan wanted:

He got the Jazz going.

Playing all 12 minutes of the first period, McLeod missed his first three shots — but still saw to it that Utah was up 19-16 before yielding to Williams at the start of the second quarter.

Because would-be Warriors starter Baron Davis was out with a strained left hamstring sustained in Golden State's season-opening win over Atlanta, McLeod was matched against veteran Derek Fisher.

When Williams entered in the second, he was initially up against training-camp invitee Aaron Miles, an undrafted free agent from the University of Kansas. He, too, got the Jazz going, feeding subs Devin Brown and Matt Harpring for a couple quick baskets early in the second quarter.

After just a couple minutes, though, Fisher spelled Miles and Williams picked up his third foul less than six minutes into the period.

Palacio entered with the Jazz up 32-25, and Utah's offense sputtered some for the rest of the half, going into the break up just two at 42-40.

McLeod returned to play all 12 minutes of the third quarter, though, and the Jazz got back on track, outscoring the Warriors 28-18 in the period. McLeod again missed both of shots from the field, but he dished three assists in the quarter and sent the Jazz into the fourth up 70-58.

Golden State rallied a bit in the final quarter, trimming a 14-point Jazz advantage to just four at 79-75 with less than six minutes to go.

Williams and Palacio were on the floor together at the time, just like they were for a time against Dallas.

The Jazz responded to the Warriors' 10-0 run, though, getting two Jarron Collins free throws with 5:18 remaining and a jumper from Williams one possession later to pull comfortably back ahead.

Okur led the Jazz in scoring for a second straight game with 23, and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds as well. Harpring finished with 15 points, Kirilenko scored 11 and Giricek and Williams had 10 apiece.

NOTES: As expected, Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer (strained left hamstring) did not play. Boozer is not expected to play tonight vs. Phoenix at the Delta Center, either . . . After serving the second of a two-game suspension Friday for the punch he threw in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jazz rookie big man Robert Whaley is eligible to play his first NBA game tonight. Sloan, however, said Friday he was not whether or not Whaley would stay on the active roster or be moved to the inactive list. The decision, he added, probably will come down to positional needs . . . Besides Boozer, the Jazz's inactives for a second straight game Friday were healthy rookie guards Andre Owens and C.J. Miles.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com