Okur, Jazz continue dominance over PistonsJan 11, 2009 - 6:24 AM By Tony Pizza PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- January was good to the Utah Jazz last season. On Saturday, they improved to 4-1 for the month in 2009 by beating one of their favorite opponents.
Mehmet Okur scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, dominating his former team to lead the Jazz to a 99-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
"I thought we were alive," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Memo was shooting the ball well, he had a good night shooting the ball. We just had a lot of people playing pretty well."
The win was Utah's eighth straight over the perennial Eastern Conference power.
Utah, which used an 11-2 start in January last season to get itself back into the playoff race, is hoping for a similar run this time around. In a season plagued by injuries, the Jazz currently are just percentage points outside of a playoff spot.
"I like the way our team has been trying to play here lately - trying to pass the ball, trying to execute our offense," Sloan said. "I think we've (shown) a little bit more confidence in each other."
The win completed the season sweep for the Jazz, the fourth straight time they have accomplished the feat. The last time Detroit beat Utah was an ugly 64-62 contest on March 14, 20005.
"We play good against them, here and also up there (in Detroit)," Okur said. "Hopefully we're going to keep doing what we're doing - beat them twice every year, and we go from there."
Utah won the first game of the season series on the road, 120-114, in double-overtime on December 19. Saturday's win, however, came much easier.
Okur scored the team's first eight points, and 11 of its first 14, as Utah jumped all over Detroit in the game's opening minutes to the tune of a 14-2 lead. The Jazz ended the first quarter with a 32-21 advantage and never trailed.
"My teammates did a good job of creating open shots for me and I was able to mix up my game," Okur said. "I was able to post up, step back, pull-up jump shots, I got to the free-throw line, so it felt good tonight."
Detroit, which was coming off an emotional 93-90 win over Denver on Friday in Allen Iverson's first game against his former team, seemed to lack energy in this one.
After scoring a game-high 38 points in the clubs' last meeting, Iverson mustered just 11 points in this one. Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 19 points, but the only other Piston in double figures was Jason Maxiell, who finished with 11.
"No excuses," Iverson said. "It had nothing to do with being the last game of the trip, dead legs, anything. They were just better than us and they whooped us tonight."
Rasheed Wallace did not start due to a sore foot, and Richard Hamilton missed the game with a strained left groin.
Paul Millsap saw his 19-game double-double streak end as he finished with nine points and seven rebounds. It was just his second non-double-double since replacing injured All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer, who underwent successful knee surgery on Friday and will miss at least another month.
"It's not too important," Millsap said of his streak ending. "I just go out there and play basketball and the stats come along with it. The main thing (is), we got the win, and continue to execute."
Millsap's atypical night was more a tribute to Utah's bench than anything else.
After Detroit closed the gap to 70-64 with 2:34 remaining in the third, Utah went on a 9-0 run to close the quarter with a 79-64 lead.
Ronnie Price, who started in place of injured swingman C.J. Miles, was the only Jazz starter to see playing time in the final period. Price's fadeaway 3-pointer from well beyond the arc pushed the lead to 90-67 with 8:07 remaining in the game.
Utah's bulge ballooned to 25 when Price fed Kosta Koufos for a dunk.
"Ronnie Price played a terrific game," Sloan said. "He hasn't played in some time. He started the game off and got in foul trouble a bit, but in the second half he was Ronnie."
Okur hit his first six shots of the game and finished 8-of-9 from the field, 3-of-3 from the arc and 3-of-3 from the line.
For teammate Deron Williams, it was just more of the same against Detroit. He has yet to lose to the Pistons in his career.
In this one, he was a bit under the weather with a sinus infection that had gone into his chest. But he engineered an efficient attack, as the Jazz shot 53.5 percent (38-of-71) and turned over the ball just nine times.
"I like the way we're playing," said Andrei Kirilenko, who collected 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
"I like how we play because we get a lot of energy. We kind of concentrate defensively and the transition from defense to offense is excellent."
Williams posted seven points and nine assists.
It was Utah's second straight blowout against a team that came into its home arena on the second game of a back-to-back set. The convincing victory allowed the Jazz to rest their starters as they get ready to play four games in six nights, starting at home on Monday against the Indiana Pacers.
The Pistons, winners of eight of their previous nine games, ended a four-game road swing with a 2-2 record.
"We can take a lot of positives out of it, but we can take a lot of negatives out as well," Iverson said of the road trip. "We did some good things and some bad things. We should have won the game in Portland. Obviously, tonight, we didn't have a chance in this one from the beginning."
UTAH 99 FINAL
Jan 10 11:22 PM
UTAH 79 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 10 10:50 PM
UTAH 57 HALFTIME
Jan 10 10:09 PM
UTAH 32 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 10 9:36 PM
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