for this game

Okur's 27 points lead Jazz past Wizards

Feb 2, 2008 - 7:09 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Mehmet Okur and the red-hot Utah Jazz took advantage of an undermanned opponent.

Okur had 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Jazz posted a 96-87 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Ronnie Brewer scored 12 points and Deron Williams had nine of his 11 in the fourth for Utah, which has won seven straight for the first time since winning eight in a row from November 10-24, 2006. It is the longest current winning streak in the NBA.

"It doesn't mean anything until you continue to go forward," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.

The Wizards, who have dropped two straight and three of four, played their third straight game without forward Caron Butler, who was named a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Thursday.

"We hope to get him back (for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers), but he's still hurting," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "Another day of rehab and exercise and we'll see. It's an early game on Sunday (noon), which is not to our advantage."

Washington also continues to march through its schedule without Gilbert Arenas (knee), who missed his 37th game for the club.

"I know the Wizards were shorthanded, but those guys played hard," Sloan said. "The Wizards had us out of sync with their different defenses. We had a tough time figuring out what we were doing.

"Once we settled down and started running the floor and playing better, we were able to get back in the ballgame."

The Jazz, who have gone 12-2 to begin the calendar year, took control of a close game in the fourth quarter.

After All-Star Antawn Jamison split a pair of foul shots to cut the Wizards' deficit to 72-69 with 8:12 left in the final period, Utah went on a 9-2 spurt capped by a 19-foot jumper by Williams with 5:31 remaining to give the Jazz an 81-71 lead - their first double-digit advantage.

"Those guys are constantly moving," Jamison said. "They've got guys crossing and they score a lot of easy buckets. Their big men do a great job of looking for their teammates. Offensively, this team is rolling, but defensively, you've got to claw and scratch.

"You've got (Carlos) Boozer down there pushing you. You've got (Andrei) Kirilenko, as long as he is, doing a great job of defending the ball. You've got a nice bench coming off playing tough. It's just a team to reckon with - a veteran team that knows how to take it to the next level in the second half of the season, and they're just taking it to the next level right now."

Utah's bench players outscored Washington's reserves, 26-4, and the Jazz had 32 assists on 36 field goals.

"They are very efficient," Wizards guard Antonio Daniels said. "That's the easiest way I can put it. I don't know how many guys on that team are shooting under 50 percent from the field because they get easy shots. They work together.

"Basically, they play textbook basketball; screens and get open, if somebody has a better look than you do, they get the basketball. They slow the game down a little bit. They are a very good half-court executing team. They've been that way since John Stockton and Karl Malone were there."

Okur, who connected on 11-of-16 from the floor, scored 19 of his total in the second half and also collected his fourth double-double of the season.

"It was a big win for us, being our first game on the road," Okur said. "In the second half, we attacked the defense, everybody really shared the ball, and we were active on defense. It was a very different game between the first and second halves."

Williams and Boozer were held scoreless in Utah's 11-point first quarter. However, Williams dished 12 assists for the Jazz, who shot 42 percent (36-of-85) from the field.

"He's an All-Star," Jamison said of Williams. "The guy's not a rookie or anything like that. He's one of the best guards in the league, so you're not going to keep a guy struggling for four quarters, especially a guy of his talent.

"He just kept chipping away and took his time and didn't force anything and, in the fourth quarter, he was able to get some open looks and he did a great job converting. A guy like that, it's just a matter of time before he get into a stretch where he's feeling it offensively and, unfortunately for us, it was the last four or five minutes of the game."

Boozer finished with a season-low four points for Utah, which has won three straight on the road.

Jamison scored 31 points and Andray Blatche had 19, a season high-tying 13 boards and four blocks for Washington, which shot 38 percent (28-of-74).

"We weren't able to really get anything going offensively," Jamison said. "At both ends, you had to claw and scratch. Guys were physical and playing hard. They didn't want you to get any kind of open opportunities.

"We got them when they were hot, and they did a tremendous job of keeping their composure. They kept working at it and working at it, and they finally got the lead there in the fourth quarter. They're just playing pretty well right now. They're rolling."

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