for this game

Williams returns as Jazz roar past Grizzlies

Nov 27, 2008 - 6:22 AM By Tony Pizza PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Deron Williams returned to the Utah Jazz one game too late.

Two days after Utah dropped its first home game of the season - and first in 14 tries dating to last spring - Williams made a triumphant return from an ankle injury to lead the Jazz to a 117-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

With the fourth-year star running the show, they put together their biggest offensive output of the season. Williams had missed 13 of Utah's 15 games this campaign after spraining his left ankle in a preseason game against Chicago - the very team that snapped Utah's home streak, 101-100, on Monday. He returned to register 11 points and 15 assists in 29 minutes in his first appearance since November 12.

"We're just glad to have Deron back, get him back and hopefully get him ready to go," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said. "In the open floor, he gets guys the basketball. That's what makes him such a great player."

All five Jazz starters scored in double figures, led by Paul Millsap. The third-year forward posted season highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds in place of All-Star forward Carlos Boozer, who sat out his fourth straight game with a strained left quadriceps tendon. Utah has yet to play a game this season with its primary starting five, but managed its most efficient performance of the season anyway. Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer both added 21 points apiece and Andrei Kirilenko added 17 points off the bench.

"He played great," Williams said of Millsap. "He's been playing great for us all year. I've been a big Paul Millsap fan since I was a young boy, and if you give him these type of minutes consistently, he can produce these type of numbers for you."

With Williams finally on the floor, the Jazz matched a season-high with 31 assists and shot a blistering 54 percent (44-of-82), including a number of dunks and layups as Williams consistently found his teammates cutting to the basket. The Jazz finished with 62 points in the paint.

"I felt pretty good out there," Williams said. "Still a little hesitant physically. Got a little nervous down around the basket, but it felt pretty good. I know my limitations right now. I'm not going to come back and score 25 and 12, but I can do my part and get guys shots, and try to run the offense."

The star point guard looked mostly healthy, displaying the kind of explosiveness that he has been accustomed to over the last three-plus years.

Utah jumped all over the Grizzlies in the first quarter, racing to a 33-19 advantage behind a 63 percent shooting performance. The Jazz took an early 7-5 lead less than three minutes into the game and never looked back. Memphis did, however, make things interesting late in the first half with a 9-2 run, led by Rudy Gay's seven points.

"We've got enough talent to compete in this league night in, night out," Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo said. "For us to get down 20, you get that in your head and it's an opportunity for us to keep playing hard. You never know what can happen in this league."

But the Jazz quickly answered with a 9-3 run of their own, including a nifty fast break that included a behind-the-back pass from Kirilenko to Brewer.

Brewer dished right back to Kirilenko, who dropped in a layup, drew a foul and completed the three-point play. Just as the second half was coming to a close, Okur pulled up from halfcourt and lobbed a pass to Brewer, who caught it and passed to Kirilenko without touching the floor. Kirilenko capped it with another layup and scored seven of the Jazz's final 11 points of the first half to give Utah a 59-46 lead.

"I think we're playing pretty well as a team and we basically controlled the game," Kirilenko said.

Williams left the game for the final time to a standing ovation with 3:51 left in the game and the Jazz holding a 112-86 lead.

Gay was two points shy of his season high as he poured in 27 for the Grizzlies and Mayo added 22 on 10-of-15 shooting as Memphis dropped its second loss to Utah in three games.

"They have a great team and I think they have a chance to get to the finals," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni of Utah. "Once they get (Carlos) Boozer back, they'll be clicking, but obviously having Deron (Williams) back helped."

Marc Gasol was the only other Memphis player to score in double figures, as he had 12 points and eight rebounds in a losing cause.

  • NBA
    MEMPHIS 100
    UTAH 117 FINAL

    Nov 26 11:25 PM
  • 5
    Sweetness34 Added 5 roots

    Grizzlies 71, Jazz 95  End of 3rdNov 26 10:55 PM

  • NBA
    MEMPHIS 71
    UTAH 95 END, 3RD QTR

    Nov 26 10:52 PM

  • NBA
    MEMPHIS 46

    Nov 26 10:09 PM

  • NBA
    MEMPHIS 19
    UTAH 33 END, 1ST QTR

    Nov 26 9:36 PM