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Jazz stop Bucks for another home win

Jan 15, 2008 - 6:03 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) - The struggles of the Utah Jazz have thus far been limited to the road and home has still been sweet.

That trend continued in the finale of their four-game homestand Monday night, as they improved to 16-3 at EnergySolutions Arena with a 98-87 victory over Milwaukee.

Battling a cold and minor back spasms, Deron Williams scored 33 points to go with 10 assists and four steals, and Carlos Boozer added 21 points, as the Jazz won their fourth straight and sixth in their last seven games.

"It feels good to get back on a winning track. Gives us confidence at home," Williams said. "We've got to see if we can keep it up on the road."

In a game in which neither team ever got comfortable, Williams kept the Jazz afloat during a back-and-forth third quarter, and singlehandedly put the Jazz in the driver's seat down the stretch.

"He played great. He was out there attacking, and he just kept driving until they stopped him," Boozer said. "They didn't stop him, so he shot free throws for most of the game. He played terrific tonight."

His 3-pointer with less than three seconds on the clock at the end of the third curbed the Bucks' third-quarter surge and brought Utah to within a single point. When the final period came around, it was once again Williams taking control, as the third-year point guard buried a 20-footer to give his club a one-point advantage.

The Bucks never got any closer.

As Milwaukee went more than eight minutes without hitting a field goal, the Jazz quietly built a comfortable lead.

"That shows how good our defense was in the fourth quarter we just stopped them and get them out of their plays," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "That's what we've been lacking the whole season in the fourth quarter."

Williams scored eight points during a 13-2 Utah run to open up the final period.

The Jazz had built a modest six-point lead the largest of the game up until that point halfway through the period when Williams jumped in front of a Michael Redd pass and took it the other way, making a pair of nifty moves under the basket, finishing strong with a lay-up and drawing a foul.

"We did a good job of closing down and we saw he was off-balance a little bit and had to get rid of it. I just jumped on the pass and was able to steal it," Williams said. "I thought we did a better job in that second half of getting stops and helping each other out."

Though he failed to convert the three-point play, the play was sufficient enough to push the momentum firmly in Utah's favor. A Mo Williams 3-pointer and a pair of Michael Redd free throws pulled Milwaukee to within just five, but Carlos Boozer answered with a long jumper and the Utah defense was able to keep the Milwaukee offense at bay.

It wasn't that the Bucks lacked energy, or even big-play ability. In fact, they tenuously took control midway through the third period, during which the Jazz offense faltered, connecting on just 7-of-19 shot attempts.

Milwaukee point guard Mo Williams a former second-round pick of the Jazz in 2003 broke a 59-59 tie with a long 3-pointer at the 5:37 mark and Andrew Bogut who played his college ball at nearby University of Utah added a lay-up and a dunk to cap a 7-2 that gave his club a five-point edge.

The Milwaukee duo seemed right at home in front of their former fans, but they made up the bulk of the team's offense. All-Star Michael Redd never got into an offensive rhythm, finishing with 16 points, six of which came at the foul line. He was just 4-of-10 from the field.

Once the hot hands of Williams and Bogut cooled down, the Bucks had little else to offer. From the 50-second mark in the third quarter to the 4:35 mark in the fourth, the team missed 11 straight field goals as Utah's lead ballooned into double-digits.

"I think you have to give them a lot of credit because they did an excellent job of executing their offense and setting screens on us. We had a difficult time trying to guard them," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Finally, I think Paul Millsap came into the ballgame and I thought he gave us a tremendous lift defensively."

Deron Williams' three-point play with 90 seconds remaining gave the Jazz an 11-point edge, all but sealing the team's 22nd win of the season. He had a career night from the foul line, knocking down 16-of-20 attempts.

"My big men Boozer, Memo, Paul did a great job setting ball screens and getting me open," Williams said. "I was able to get down the lane and just draw contact and finish at the rim."

Bogut led Milwaukee with 23 points, while Mo Williams added 21 and six assists. The Bucks lost all three games of their West Coast road trip, falling to the Lakers and Suns before Monday's loss.

"Out of the 12 quarters in those games, we had nine really good quarters," Bucks coach Larry Krystowiak said. "We shot ourselves in the foot in L.A. in one quarter, Phoenix in the third quarter and [tonight] it was the fourth quarter ... We turned the ball over, we missed open jump shots."

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