Frank Gunn, Associated Press
TORONTO — They should have called this one after three periods, like in hockey.
It was in Canada, after all.
And the Jazz did have matters well in hand by the fourth quarter Wednesday night, using a 61-point first half to catapult them to a 113-87 win at Toronto.
Seven players, including all five starters, scored in double figures as the 47-25 Jazz moved into a record-tie with Denver for third place in the NBA's Western Conference and first in the Northwest Division.
The Nuggets, though, hold head-to-head tiebreaker rights over the Jazz by virtue of their 3-1 season series win.
"It's huge for us," power forward Carlos Boozer said after Utah, opening a three-game trip that continues Friday night at Indiana and closes Saturday night at Washington, won for the third straight time and for the fifth in its last six outings.
"Possibly we can go home and we have moved up a spot — or two," Boozer added after the Jazz also moved to within a half-game of second-place Dallas in the West. "So for us it's monumental, and I hope that we can keep playing the way we're playing. We're playing great."
They sure were Wednesday, beating 34-35 Toronto — which is fighting to fend off Chicago for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot — behind almost surgical precision in the opening half.
"We just wanted to get going early," point guard Deron Williams said of a first half in which Utah shot 50 percent from the field and Toronto just 38.1 "I think that was the most important thing — just establishing a good tempo early, executing and getting stops."
By the time they got to the fourth, the Jazz were up 87-67.
And though the Raptors did get to within 13 with just under eight minutes to go, Utah had its advantage back above 20 — Paul Millsap's Williams-fed reverse layup did the trick — for the game's final 5:29.
Williams led the way with 18 points and 16 assists for his 38th double-double this season, and Boozer notched his 47th with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Mehmet Okur and Wesley Matthews added 16 points each for the Jazz, whose 31 assists marked the 17th time this season they've dished 30 or more.
Much of that was spurred by the play of Williams, who controlled the pace, thoroughly outplayed Raptors point Jose Calderon and finished just two rebounds short of what would have been his first career triple-double.
"He had a terrific game," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose club improved to 15-1 when all five starters score in double figures — testament to just how critical Williams' getting everyone involved really is.
"That is the way he plays — and it is up to him," Sloan added when asked about Williams pushing the ball as much as he did. "He pretty much rules the roost on that."
Wednesday marked the third time this season, and the 15th in his five-year career, that Williams has registered at least 16 assists.
"I told him on the bench, 'This might be one of the best ballgames I've seen you play,'" said Boozer, who like Williams sat for the fourth's final three-plus minutes.
"I mean, he scored the ball. They couldn't stay in front of him, so they went to that zone (in the second half) to try to protect their players. He got everybody involved. ... He played phenomenal. When he's playing like that, and we're playing the way we're playing, it takes pressure off of everybody."
On the other end, the Jazz limited Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh to 20 points. He had 15 through three quarters.
"Everybody helped on Chris Bosh, everybody did a great job of getting back to their man and rebounding the ball," Boozer said after Utah won its 10th straight over Toronto.
"We tried to help as much as possible on Chris Bosh in the beginning," swingman C.J. Miles added, "and tried to make everybody else become a scorer and take outside shots — and they missed them, which allowed us to get out and run and build a lead."
Which by the time the fourth rolled around was all they would need, and plenty more.
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