Okur's double-double helps Jazz top BlazersDec 12, 2008 - 7:42 AM By Tony Pizza PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Northwest Division champion Utah Jazz three of their six division losses and won three of the teams' four meetings. This season is a different story.
Mehmet Okur scored 21 points in the first half alone, and finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz pulled out a 97-88 win over the Trail Blazers on Thursday.
Utah has beaten its division rival twice in as many tries this season, with both games happening here.
"I felt good, especially in the first half," Okur said. "I was able to mix up my game. I was able to get in the paint, get to the free throw line, (get) a couple of quick layups and stuff."
The Jazz continued their strong play with a healthy Deron Williams in the lineup as the 2008 Olympic gold medalist finished with 14 points and 11 assists for his sixth double-double.
"Deron has a tremendous ability to be able to get the ball to guys and know how to get them open off pick and roll situations," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's a very smart player."
Williams looked as close to 100 percent as he has since suffering an ankle injury in the preseason that held him out of 13 of Utah's first 15 games.
"I thought Deron played much better tonight and looked much more alive than he has been since he's been back," Sloan said. "That was encouraging to see."
Four Jazz players scored in double figures, including Ronnie Brewer, who finished with 10 points.
Brandon Roy led the way for the Blazers with a game-high 33 points, including 15 of Portland's 20 points in the third quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 for Portland, which has lost two straight for the second time.
"It was a battle, it will be for years to come," Roy said. "They did a good job of protecting their home court, so now it's our turn to protect our floor. They are a good team, the executed well and I just think we waited too long to get physical with them."
Rookie center Greg Oden started for the 10th time but was held to eight points and nine rebounds.
Utah once again got productive minutes out of forward Paul Millsap, who had his 10th consecutive double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Millsap is averaging 16.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in the 12 games All-Star forward Carlos Boozer has missed with a tendon injury in his right thigh.
"You can never get tired of that," Millsap said of his double-doubles. "I'm out there just trying to do the things that help our team win. Getting some rebounds and doing a little scoring every now and then."
The Jazz are 7-5 with Boozer out of the lineup and have won three of their last four.
Utah led by two points after the first quarter but put the clamps down defensively in the second, holding the Blazers to 19 points. Utah scored 28 points of its own and built a double-digit lead that it would not relinquish until late in the fourth quarter.
Portland pulled within 89-81 on Roy's layup with 2:15 remaining but would get no closer.
"The second half we did a better job of not giving them easy baskets," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "The first quarter was a layup drill. I thought we made some adjustments and started to keep the team in front of us."
The Blazers are coming off a stretch of playing seven games in 12 nights. Portland went 4-3 over that stretch despite playing five of the seven games on the road.
"We had some ups and downs tonight," Roy said. "This is a really tough stretch we wanted to get through."
UTAH 97 FINAL
Dec 12 1:10 AM
UTAH 78 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 12 12:34 AM
UTAH 57 HALFTIME
Dec 11 11:42 PM
UTAH 27 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 11 11:09 PM
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