Offensively, the streaking Utah Jazz seem to have lost little during the long All-Star break.

Defense, they complained, was another story.

Oh, on offense, they got a little rushed. A fast-break team like Golden State can lure speed basketball out of an opponent, but once the Jazz settled down and got to making passes again, it was only the lack of defense that was an annoyance Tuesday night in EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah scored a season-high 77 points in the first half, the most Utah has totaled in a half since 1992, shooting 62.8 percent, led by as many as 25 in the second half and went on to a 119-109 win over the Warriors.

Coach Jerry Sloan found plenty to grouse about, but the bench play of Ronnie Price, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring and Paul Millsap playing with either Carlos Boozer or Memo Okur late in the first quarter and early in the second pleased him and led to a 16-3 run that ended Golden State's brief leads, and the first unit took it from there.

"They're a team that really puts pressure on you, and we can't play that way all the time," said Sloan, who didn't like seeing his team making one pass and then taking a 3-pointer or other long shot because it's hard to get back on defense when the shot misses.

"In the first quarter, we threw the ball away (six turnovers)," Sloan grumbled. "It was just a terrible display of basketball the way we like to play. Fortunately we were able to have a little momentum going into halftime."

"In the first part when they went into a zone, it kind of threw us off a bit," said guard Ronnie Brewer. "We knew if we executed we were going to get easy shots, but we were too anxious, trying to make the home-run pass on the first pass. All we needed to do was make a couple of passes, and execute our offense, and we'd get easy shots. Once we did that, we started knocking down shots, getting to the basket and were finishing."

Sloan thought Korver helped the Jazz beat the zone, not so much with his threes (three in the first half) but with a play he made by getting the ball on the baseline and making the extra pass back out to Deron Williams for a three near the end of the first half. That's what Sloan wanted to see. "That's a good 3-point shot," he said.

"When we come down and just fire it up without any rhyme or reason, we can't cover the other end of the floor. You'd think some of those 3-point shots we took a time or two were going to count 15 or 20 points. They only count three if you make them," Sloan added.

While the Jazz may have gotten anxious, they were able to hang with the Warriors at their game. "We can play both (games)," said Williams, whose 31st double-double of the season was 29 points and 12 assists. "We did a good job running with them. I asked Coach if he wanted to slow it down, and he said, 'No, keep pushing.'

"Gotta be happy with it," was Williams' opinion. "We really didn't miss a beat. Picked up right where we left off."

The Jazz, at 23-3, are tied for the best home record in the league, and at 35-19, they're fourth in the Western Conference and still 1.5 games up on Denver in the Northwest Division as they prepare for their next game at the Los Angeles Clippers in the Staples Center Friday at 8:30 MST.

They have won three straight and 17 of their last 19 games.

"We're happy to win, don't get me wrong," said Carlos Boozer, who had his 37th double-double, 16 points and 12 rebounds. "I just want to play better D. Against tougher teams in the West, we've got to continue stopping them. Tonight we played well enough offensively to win but not tough enough defensively. We've just got to get back in the lab and tighten up our D, fine-tune our defense a little bit."

"They're better than we are. How 'bout that?" said Warrior coach Don Nelson, whose team lost the second round of playoffs last spring to the Jazz. "They basically own us, and this is as close as we've come. This could have been another 20-point game for them if they would have kept the pedal to the metal."

Nelson lost Stephen Jackson in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain after he had scored just six points. Al Harrington led Golden State with 21.

With Boozer and Okur (10) rebounding well, Utah enjoyed a 45-33 edge on the boards to help slow the Warriors at times.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com