Williams, Jazz win second straightJan 3, 2008 - 6:18 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- It took 30 days, but it finally happened: The Utah Jazz won back-to-back games.
A full month after their last winning streak, the Jazz followed up Monday's win over Portland with a decisive 110-107 triumph over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
"It feels like a long time," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "It feels good as well, to come out and get a win at home."
Williams spearheaded a potent Jazz attack with 15 points and a season-high 20 assists and Mehmet Okur broke out of a season-long slump with 20 points for Utah, which appeared miles away from the erratic club that lost 11 of 16 games in the month of December.
From the game's opening minutes, the Jazz were in control and remained that way throughout, but the pesky Sixers kept hanging around.
Every time the deficit ballooned into double digits, Philadelphia whittled it down primarily on the strength of Andre Miller's dribble-penetration and Andre Iguodala's hot hand.
The Sixers' backcourt duo combined for 33 of the team's 47 first-half points as the Jazz led by just six. After the Jazz pushed their lead to 13 with about a minute to play in the third period, Iguodala scored five points in a 11-3 run bridging the final two quarters as Philadelphia cut it to 80-75.
"We were in a tight game with a very good time. We knew we had a shot to win the game," Iguodala said. "That's what it's about. We can say we played good, but playing good isn't enough. You've got to play good enough to win."
C.J. Miles immediately answered from outside, burying a 3-pointer to at least momentarily take back the momentum.
Minutes later, Philadelphia bounced right back as rookie center Jason Smith grabbed Iguodala's miss, laid in an easy putback and drew a controversial foul to bring the Sixers back to within five.
But Utah once again answered from outside as Williams found Okur on the wing and the sharp-shooting big man knocked down his second 3-pointer of the night.
"I think our inside game opened up the outside shots. We got a lot of shots in transition as well," Williams said. "They play zone, so guys are taking shots when they have them. You can't pass them up. That spreads it out for everybody and makes the game easier for everybody."
The Sixers saved their best for last, however, pulling to within two points on three consecutive possessions in the game's final 90 seconds.
The first two times, Williams went right to his security blanket, hitting All-Star forward Carlos Boozer for back-to-back long jumpers to hold Philadelphia at bay.
"It was great because, the way they played us in the pick-and-roll was that they stayed home on our shooters in the corner," Boozer said. "Me and (Williams) were able to play a little pick-and-roll basketball, and we took advantage of it, and I knocked down some 17-footers."
"He just told me to come to him, so I'm gonna come to him," Williams said. "A guy like that tells you he wants the ball, he's going to come up with some big shots. He's come up with big shots all year."
After Samuel Dalembert's backwards hook shot fell in to cut Utah's lead to 105-103, Jazz guard - and former Sixer - Kyle Korver sank 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the second win in a row for his new team.
"That's the only place we were losing - all the games we lost were fourth-quarter losses," Sloan said of his team's late-game problems. "We would play pretty hard and play pretty well to be in those situations. We just couldn't make shots and turned the ball over. Boozer made some big shots in the ballgame."
Iguodala finished with 30 points, his best scoring effort of the season, to pace the Sixers and Miller added 25 to go with eight assists.
Coincidentally, Wednesday's game doubled as an immediate reunion between the Sixers and Korver and the Jazz and Gordan Giricek.
The two veteran shooters were traded for one another over the weekend, as the Jazz sent a disgruntled Giricek packing after he was sent home from a recent road trip by coach Jerry Sloan.
Utah fans let Giricek hear it when he checked in, greeting him with a chorus of boos when he came off the bench at the 4:13 mark of the first quarter.
"It was fun," Giricek said of his reception. "Your adrenaline goes up, and it gives you more motivation to play well."
Giricek missed his first two shot attempts but finally got on the board with a 3-pointer late in the third. He finished with four points in his second appearance with Philadelphia.
His de facto replacement, Korver, fared a bit better for Utah, scoring 14 points off the bench.
"I haven't been that nervous in a long time and I was nervous for the last game. I was more nervous for this game," Korver said. "This was a game that I'm glad is done, and we can move on. It's kind of weird how that worked, how we played them right away."
UTAH 110 FINAL
Jan 2 11:28 PM
UTAH 78 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 2 10:46 PM
UTAH 53 HALFTIME
Jan 2 10:06 PM
UTAH 24 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 2 9:34 PM
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