SALT LAKE CITY — They've had two four-game win streaks in their last nine games, wrapped around a loss at Denver.
Crucial to it all, coach Jerry Sloan remains convinced, is the way the Jazz have been sharing the ball.
"That's been a big key for us — passing the basketball, and trying to get somebody an easier shot," he said after Utah had 27 assists in Wednesday's win at Portland.
"We're not looking at guys like, 'This guy can't shoot it,' " added Sloan, whose Jazz open a four-game homestand tonight vs. Sacramento.
"We're not making those decisions. We're just passing the basketball naturally, and guys are shooting the ball better than they would ordinarily, I think, in that case."
The Jazz have had 27 or more assists during eight of their last nine games, including two with 30.
Utah leads the NBA in assists per game at 26.15, two-plus better than the rest of the pack.
Point guard Deron Williams, for one, agrees that that has much to do with Utah's recent run of success.
"We know what makes us successful," he said. "You know, we've had good games, we've had bad games. The games we win, usually there's a lot of assists, a lot of people touching the ball, a lot of people being unselfish, and we're playing better defense. When we lose, we're being selfish, not helping each other defensively.
"And we just realize if we want to be an elite team we have to start doing those things. ... We know what we've got to do."
BOOZER UPDATE: Power forward Carlos Boozer was seen by a team doctor and underwent an MRI exam Thursday on his strained right calf, but the Jazz said test results won't be revealed until today.
"We won't know anything until (then)," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Thursday night.
O'Connor said Boozer hasn't been ruled in or out for tonight's game, and his status beyond then remains equally uncertain.
Boozer strained his right calf during the third quarter of Utah's 106-95 win Wednesday.
KOUFOS RECALLED: The Jazz on Thursday recalled second-year big man Kosta Koufos from the Utah Flash, their NBA Development League affiliate.
The recall was made largely because of the uncertainty surrounding Boozer. Jazz backup center Kyrylo Fesenko also remains out with a sprained left ankle that's sidelined him for six straight games.
"We need bodies — especially bigs," O'Connor said.
Koufos has played just one game with the Flash since getting sent down, scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds in Monday's loss to Maine.
KORVER AND STILLER: Jazz shooting guard Kyle Korver hit two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's win, and one in particular made him feel especially good.
"I'm pretty excited about the last one," Korver said, "because I turned left when I shot it."
"I've been like Ben Stiller in Zoolander for, like, three months — I'm all right."
GROW ON: Paul Millsap supposedly started it, then bailed. C.J. Miles kept his for some time. Williams too, even if there has been a trim or two.
It's facial hair, and the pact was to keep it growing until the Jazz won five straight games.
Utah's win Wednesday was its fourth in a row, prompting Williams to be asked if a victory tonight at home would mean his beard finally comes off.
"No," he said. "I think I'm gonna keep it."
"We'll have a streak," Williams said, "so I can't just change it."
GOOD CALL: Williams credited Sloan's late-game decision to double-team Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge for Utah holding on in Wednesday's fourth quarter.
"It was a great call by Coach to start doubling," said Williams, who'll miss tonight's game because of a family funeral.
"I mean, he (Aldridge) was scoring pretty much every play down the court," the Jazz point added. "So, we just went after him early and made him give it up — and I think it took them out of their rhythm a little bit."
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