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Utah Jazz: Extra practice helps Deron Williams break out of slump

SHARE Utah Jazz: Extra practice helps Deron Williams break out of slump

SALT LAKE CITY — Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy complimented Jazz guard Deron Williams in multiple ways prior to Utah's 117-105 win over the Magic on Friday night, but there was one glaring omission: his 3-point shooting.

And probably for good reason. Williams entered Friday's game missing 11 of his last 12 3-point attempts, and he was just 3-for-21 from long range in the Jazz's last four games.

"Deron Williams, for us, is even more of a problem because of his size at the point," Van Gundy said. "But Deron Williams gives everybody problems. I mean, you got to deal with him in post-ups, you got to deal with him coming off screens, you got to deal with him in pick-and-rolls and you got to limit him in transition. He's a great, great player."

Van Gundy will probably mention Williams' ability to knock down 3-point shots the next time he's asked about the All-Star point guard.

Williams broke out of his 3-point shooting slump by draining four 3-point bombs in Utah's win over Orlando. He made three of his 3-pointers during a decisive third quarter that saw the Jazz go on a 10-0 run and an 11-2 run.

For Williams, who scored a game-high 32, the shooting effort was the result of extra practice on his shot. He and C.J. Miles stayed after practice on Thursday and did nothing but shoot 3-pointers. The extra work obviously paid off for both players.

"We struggled as of late from 3," Williams said. "I tried to get my rhythm back and it helped a lot."

Williams' 3-point slump was perplexing, as he has one of the better looking shots in the NBA. When he shoots it, as coach Jerry Sloan noted, you assume he's making it.

"When he shoots the ball, he looks so comfortable doing it, you just feel like every shot he takes is going to go into the basket," Sloan said.

Williams stayed confident in his 3-point shot during his slump.

"It felt good for the most part," he said. "I think I was rushing a little bit and today I got some good looks, some rhythm 3s where I can come off screens. Everything wasn't off the dribble."

Williams still did damage off the dribble, as he scored or assisted on every Jazz basket the team made in the third quarter. It was an impressive feat, and one that's been done several times on Utah's home floor.

"We had a guy (John Stockton) who did it before he got here — he did it a lot," Sloan said. "Deron is playing terrific basketball is all I can say. I don't know where we'd be without him."

It was an all-around stellar performance for Williams, who also contributed on defense.

"He's also worked his butt off defensively trying to get over screens and do that stuff," Sloan said. "It looks real easy. If you've never done it, it's a long night."

When Williams hits from long range, it causes a long night for opponents. He's enough of a handful when he attacks. When he's making 3-pointers, it makes the Jazz even more difficult to defend.

"(It adds) everything because now people can't play off of him," Miles said. "He's able to penetrate and dish and do the things he does better. He creates so much space with his crossover things. When he's able to knock those (3-pointers) down, he scores 32 points like he did tonight."

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com