Jazz storm back from disastrous start to stun NetsDec 18, 2008 - 5:30 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The night couldn't have started any worse for the Utah Jazz. And it couldn't have ended any better.
After managing just seven points in the first quarter Wednesday night, the Jazz stormed back to stun the New Jersey Nets, 103-92.
Williams collected 17 points and 11 assists and Okur scored all of his 23 points after halftime as the Utah Jazz rallied from a huge deficit to snap a two-game skid.
"The biggest thing is that we got the win," Utah forward Paul Millsap said. "We needed this one on the road for momentum purposes. This was a good team and the biggest thing is to keep getting better."
The Nets led by as many as 22 points, but Utah gradually whittled away at the deficit - which shrunk to single digits even with the Jazz's second unit on the floor in the second quarter. Things didn't really turn until the fourth quarter, when Millsap scored six points in a 17-4 run that turned a five-point deficit into an 88-80 lead for Utah.
The Nets couldn't recover after that as they fell to just 4-8 at the Izod Center this season. The Jazz had not won here in nearly six years.
The performances by Okur and Williams encapsulated the Jazz's entire night. They got off to a horrendous start, making just 3-of-19 shots in the opening quarter to fall behind, 27-7, through one. The seven points allowed were a season low for the Nets.
"We just didn't come out executing and we had no life in us," Williams said.
Okur was held scoreless and missed all seven of his shots in the first quarter and Williams had one point and two turnovers before spending the entire second quarter on the bench.
"I was disappointed with the way we came out; everybody was just firing shots up there," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said. "If you don't execute, the point guard doesn't get anything done. Other guys just were looking to take shots. They weren't looking to win the game. They were looking to take shots."
But the duo responded quickly in the second half as the Jazz stormed back. Williams collected 12 points and seven assists in the third quarter and Okur made 5-of-7 shots as Utah shot 14-of-23 in the period.
"We're most successful when he help each other out and execute," Williams said. "We did a good job of that in the second half and I was much more aggressive in the second half."
The Jazz overcame the loss of Sloan, who was ejected for arguing with officials at 10:29 in the fourth quarter, and took their first lead at 77-76 on Ronnie Price's jumper with 7:17 left. The Nets responded with consecutive baskets by Jarvis Hayes and rookie Brook Lopez, but Millsap answered with a layup to spark a decisive 11-0 run.
Kyle Korver buried consecutive jumpers, including a 3-pointer from the right wing, and Millsap and Okur each knocked a pair of free throws to give Utah an 88-80 cushion with 3:33 remaining. Okur and Korver combined to make 12-of-12 free throws in the final 92 seconds.
Following their brutal first half, the Jazz scored 72 points on 64 percent (23-of-36) shooting in the second half while holding the Nets to just 42 percent (19-of-46) from the floor.
"We let them hang around. They are one of the best executing teams in the NBA," Nets guard Devin Harris said. "They did what they did in the fourth quarter and we were unable to fight back."
Millsap registered his 13th consecutive double-double with 18 points and 12 boards. Korver - a second-round draft pick by the Nets in 2003 - buried a pair of buckets during the key stretch in the fourth quarter and finished with season highs of 18 points and nine rebounds for Utah.
Sloan used reserves Andrei Kirilenko, Brevin Knight, Ronnie Price, Korver and Kosta Koufos for most of the second quarter as the Jazz gradually whittled away at their big early deficit. Millsap had seven points in the period and Kirilenko added six as Utah held New Jersey to just 12 points to climb within 39-31 at halftime.
"I had to put some guys out there just to execute rather than run all over the place and take shots," Sloan said. "We just needed to change things up. We just started executing our offense, it wasn't anything else."
Kirilenko - who tipped in a buzzer-beater in Utah's last win in New Jersey on March 2, 2003 - finished with 10 points and four blocks.
Vince Carter carried the Nets all night, finishing with 32 points. However, it wasn't enough to put a stop to Utah's momentum in the second half. Harris added 21 points and 11 assists for New Jersey, which has lost four of five.
NEW JERSEY 92 FINAL
Dec 17 9:59 PM
NEW JERSEY 69 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 17 9:20 PM
NEW JERSEY 39 HALFTIME
Dec 17 8:38 PM
NEW JERSEY 27 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 17 8:05 PM
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