clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah Jazz: Hot shooting Jazz blaze by Portland

SALT LAKE CITY — Andrei Kirilenko calls them "almost-perfect games."

Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams might beg to differ.

However close to, or far from, flawless they may be, though, the Jazz's ever-growing list of really good outings lately has expanded by one.

Utah beat Portland 118-105 on Wednesday night at sold-out EnergySolutions Arena, doing so behind a season-high 28 points from center Mehmet Okur and a collective season-high 62.7 percent shooting from the field aided by Okur's 10-for-13.

It was the seventh straight win and 11th in their last 12 games for the 30-18 Jazz, who also got 22 points and a season-high eight assists from Kirilenko, a 13-point and 13-assist double-double from Williams and 16 points off the bench including 6-for-6 field shooting from rookie Wesley Matthews.

"The reason why we had a great percentage," Kirilenko said, "was we really moved great offensively and executed our offense, and really, like, almost every shot was open."

"I don't think our defense was good as it could have been for the full game," Williams added. "But we still took care of business at home, still got the stops down the stretch when needed them, still made plays."

It was the ninth straight win at EnergySolutions for the Jazz, who close out a four-game homestand Saturday night against Northwest Division-leader Denver.

The Nuggets already have won the season series with Utah, but after going up 3-0 now on the Trail Blazers the Jazz have taken the series from not only Portland but also Dallas and San Antonio.

Utah — which also won just last week at Portland, where still-out starting power forward Carlos Boozer strained his right calf — hit 70.6 percent in Wednesday's second half, their second-best shooting half of the season behind only a 72.7 percent effort in a November road win over the Blazers.

The 70.6 also marks the Jazz's best shooting second half since November 2006.

"They were definitely in rhythm. When you have a team like that shooting layups over half the game, it's tough to beat a team like that," said Andre Miller, the University of Utah product now starting at the point in Portland.

"That's what's been our problem defending them: (their) getting a lot of paint points," Miller added after Portland, again without injured stars Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, fell to 29-22. "This is the best-executing team in the league. They've been running this offense for years. You have a great point guard (Williams) over there. Guys move without the ball, and play well off of him. It's tough to defend that team."

It sure was Wednesday for the Blazers, who allowed Utah to jump out to a 60-52 halftime lead.

The Jazz were up by two after one quarter, and never trailed after that.

After going down by as many as 16 with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter — Williams went behind his back on a fastbreak, then fed Ronnie Brewer for a layup that left Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez on the floor and put Utah up 79-63 — Portland did get to within seven midway through the fourth.

But Matthews responded to LaMarcus Aldridge's jumper that made it 97-90 with a fastbreak layup fed by Williams and a layup scored with the rebound of a Williams miss, and with that the Jazz were well on their way to their fifth straight win over the Blazers in Utah.

"He (Williams) made some unbelievable passes to guys for easy baskets," said Sloan, whose Jazz lead the NBA field-goal percentage at 49. "That's just what you call talent.

"Deron (Williams) was terrific. He was terrific with the ball," the Jazz coach added after his club had assists on 32 of its 42 made baskets. "He was making a couple shots here and there, and he found people, as did other people.

Andrei (Kirilenko) had some great passes as well."

That's been the glue holding the Jazz together during their recent winning ways, which has featured an average margin of victory of 13.1 points per game over the current seven-game win streak.

"Guys are doing a great job of just finishing," said swingman C.J. Miles, who added another 10 points off the bench for his third straight double-digit scoring game. "Everybody just kind of clicks when they see what's going on, and he (Williams) doesn't have to say as much anymore.

"Everybody's active, knowing, 'If I make a good cut and I'm open I'll get a chance to get to get a layup.' . That's the mindset right now.

Everybody's moving well, everybody's defending well knowing that 'If I get a steal and get out and run we can get a layup.'

"It gets you even more hyped up," Miles added. "when you get going and you get playing like that."