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Williams, Okur help Jazz edge Cavaliers

Feb 15, 2007 - 6:51 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Maybe Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz need to start every game with a double-digit deficit in order to come out on top.

Williams scored a career-high 33 points and Mehmet Okur added 22 as the Jazz won their sixth straight, rallying to edge the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-98.

Andrei Kirilenko had 10 points and reserve Matt Harpring added nine and six rebounds for Utah, which posted its 11th comeback victory this season when trailing by 10-plus points.

"We struggled scoring a little bit throughout the game and in spurts. I think it started clicking for us in the fourth quarter," Williams said. "Memo came up and hit some big shots again for us. We just made some baskets."

The Jazz, who were down by as many as 12 points in the first quarter (29-17), took their first lead of the game at 77-76 on a 14-foot jumper by Williams with 7:31 left in the game.

After Cleveland cut the Utah lead to 97-95 on a layup by Anderson Varejao with 38 seconds left, Williams nailed a jumper from the right side five seconds later to put the Jazz back up by four.

However, Sasha Pavlovic, a former first-round draft pick of the Jazz, hit a 3-pointer with 28 ticks left to cut the Cavaliers' deficit to 99-98. At the tail end of a messy possession on the other end, Williams was forced into attempting an off-balance jumper with less than five seconds left.

"I came off a screen, somebody stepped up to guard me so I didn't really have anywhere to go, so I had to throw up something," Williams said.

The shot bounced off the rim and Paul Millsap came down with the rebound, but turned it right back over trying to outlet to Williams. Pavlovic gained possession above the circle and tried to dribble up court.

He ran into Utah's Gordan Giricek and tossed up a weak shot from just past half-court as time expired. The Cleveland bench wanted a foul but didn't get one.

Larry Hughes, for one, said Pavlovic was "definitely" fouled.

"That's a call you want at the end of the game," Hughes said. "I definitely think it was a foul. I watched the replay. ... Something has to be called."

Okur, who was named to the All-Star Game as a replacement for injured teammate Carlos Boozer, scored 11 points in the fourth and Williams added 13 in the period for the Jazz, who shot 49 percent (39-of-79) and have beaten the Cavaliers five out of seven here.

"That's a very good basketball team," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "It's well-coached. They do a lot of good things, especially on the offensive side of the floor. Deron and Memo are a nice one-two punch."

Okur's All-Star selection, of course, also meant that his teammate, Williams, didn't get the call. The snubbed second-year point guard made it personal Wednesday, responding with one of his best offensive nights of the season. In addition to his career-best scoring output, Williams dished out 12 assists, grabbed six boards and shot 14-of-23 from the floor.

"It was a little bit of a statement. I thought that I should have been on the All-Star team. ... But I'm happy that Memo made it," Williams said. "I was a little down today and yesterday when I found out. But life goes on. I have a long career ahead of me."

Okur, who scored five points in an 8-0 run that broke an 89-89 tie late in the fourth, was especially impressed by Williams' performance.

"He did everything out there," Okur said. "He was active on the offense tonight, he was active on the boards. He did everything."

Hughes scored a season-high 33 points and LeBron James had 23 points on 9-of-25 shooting for Cleveland, which lost for the first time in four games. James was handled for most of the final period by Giricek, who held him without a fourth-quarter field goal until the final minute of play.

"That's a tough assignment for anybody. (LeBron) is a wonderful player," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "(Giricek) has done a pretty good job in other situations, defensively. I stuck with him tonight because I thought he was doing a fairly decent job."

Drew Gooden had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Varejao added nine and 17 for the Cavaliers, who connected on 44 percent (35-of-80) of their shots and outrebounded the Jazz, 49-37.

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