Williams catches fire, leads Jazz to rout over SixersDec 30, 2008 - 6:29 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The Utah Jazz welcomed back Mehmet Okur to the lineup Monday night - but it was the return of vintage Deron Williams that carried the team to an easy victory.
The star point guard - hobbled for the entire season with a sprained left ankle - has gradually been building back to full strength over the last few weeks and may have come up with his best offensive performance in this one.
He posted 27 points and six assists, carrying an explosive Jazz attack as they routed the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-95.
"It stops hurting a little bit more every day," Williams said. "A day of rest really helped me yesterday. It's probably the first time all season I've felt 100 percent, or close to it."
Okur - who had missed the last three games due to recurring back spasms - provided a lift in his return, going for 19 points and 10 boards.
"I didn't think about it. I just wanted to go out there and give my best," Okur said. "To be honest, I wasn't 100 percent. I was about 75 percent. I'm glad it worked out. I felt good."
After a sluggish start by both squads, the Jazz took control late in the first half and spent the rest of the night slowly building on their lead, never allowing the Sixers to put together any kind of rally. Most of that was due to Williams.
"I've said it all season - when we execute, we're successful. We've gotta realize that," he said. "We can't just do it one on one, we've got to do it as a team if we want to have some success."
Utilizing his full arsenal - an explosive drive to the basket and a pull-up jumper that he perfected the last two seasons but has struggled to regain on a bum ankle this campaign - Williams essentially took over when he needed to.
"He's looked so much more alive and looks healthier right now than I've seen him since he's been back," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said. "He has a lot more bounce in him, it looks like, than he had, and that's great to see, because we certainly need everything he's able to give us."
With the Jazz nursing a one-point lead late in the second quarter, Williams provided a bit of breathing room with a driving layup to extend the lead to three.
Less than a minute later, he buried a 22-footer and Andrei Kirilenko added a layup to push the advantage to 46-39. Williams closed Utah's first-half scoring by himself, dropping in another layup and burying one of his four 3-pointers with eight seconds left as the Jazz took control for good.
"Most of the shots he had were out of our offense," Sloan said. "We came out and ran plays and he was in rhythm and got himself open and then shot the ball."
The former third overall pick made sure Philadelphia couldn't get back in it. After the break, he connected twice from the arc in a 54-second span and added a three-point play later in the period. He finished the night 11-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-6 from the arc.
"He was pretty much the same Deron Williams," Sixers forward Reggie Evans said. "Last time we played (the Jazz), he was hurt. He did what a franchise player should do. It wasn't unexpected."
With another weapon to work with thanks to Okur's return to the floor, Williams had plenty of help. Kirilenko registered his third double-double in four games with 16 points and 13 boards, adding three blocks and three steals as well.
The Jazz were still without All-Star forward Carlos Boozer, who missed his 21st straight game with nagging quad and knee injuries. His replacement, rising star Paul Millsap, was also sidelined with a sprained left knee, though he should return by next week.
"We're in a little bit of a hole, trying to see if we can dig out of a hole," Sloan said. "It takes everybody to get the job done, it's not one guy trying to do it all."
Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala scored 17 points apiece to lead Philadelphia, which has lost four straight.
"I thought we played a good, competitive game for the first 22 minutes," Philadelphia interim coach Tony DiLeo said. "What costs us sometimes is we have these little phases where we let teams pull away and the last two minutes of the first half was a situation where we didn't close out the half."
UTAH 112 FINAL
Dec 29 11:18 PM
UTAH 79 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 29 10:44 PM
UTAH 51 HALFTIME
Dec 29 10:02 PM
UTAH 24 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 29 9:34 PM
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