Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Deron Williams' performance Monday night wasn't just big.
It was history-making big.
"He picks and chooses when he wants to take the game over," Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer said late Monday night in Denver. "And he took over from the very beginning of the game, which was huge for us."
Even huger, statistically and results-wise, than a certain Jazz Hall of Famer ever produced — in a playoff victory, at least.
Williams' 33-point, 14-assist masterpiece in Utah's stunning 114-111 Game 2 win at the Pepsi Center marked only the third time in the postseason a Jazz player has amassed at least 30 points and 10 assists.
Not surprisingly, John Stockton put up the other two 30-10 outings.
But there is a proverbial but …
But Stockton's shining nights — 34 points/16 assists and 30 points/14 assists — came in losses to Golden State in 1989.
Putting Williams further into "rare air," as the Jazz press release labeled his historic night, Utah's point guard was the first player in the NBA in 43 years to put up that many points and assists in a road playoff victory.
That, of course, rules out Magic, Mr. Kidd and Chris Paul.
Perhaps you've heard of the only other player to meet that feat: Oscar Robertson. The Big O had 33 points and 16 assists for the Cincinnati Royals in a 120-116 win over Wilt Chamberlain's Philadelphia 76ers on March 21, 1967.
The Elias Sports Bureau wasn't able to find anybody else who's done that in NBA playoff history.
That's how big of a night Williams had.
"He just did a great job of setting the tone for us," Boozer said.
Boozer also was impressed with Williams' drive in the game, determination and effort that resulted in him taking a game-high 18 free throws. The All-Star made 16 freebies, including two clutch ones with 11.3 seconds left to put Utah up 112-109.
"He almost had 20 free throws," Boozer marveled. "That's how aggressive he was."
Williams said he and his teammates were fueled by speculation that they were too frail and weak to knock off the Nuggets after injuries to Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko left Utah shorthanded by two former All-Star starters. A "wounded animal" was how Denver guard Chauncey Billups aptly described the Jazz in a complimentary sort of way.
But the underdogs bit back, and Williams did a lot of the chomping.
"We just wanted to come out here and put that to rest," Williams said at Monday's postgame press conference. "We feel like we still have a great team that can compete and we are really proud of how we played and battled (Monday)."
The Nuggets were disappointed they allowed Williams to roam without being pressured enough, allowing him to pick them apart.
"On the pick-and-rolls, we want Williams to dribble into a crowd," Denver acting coach Adrian Dantley explained, "and we didn't do that (Monday)."
Billups credited Williams and Boozer, who added 20 points and 15 rebounds, for leading the Jazz to the tide-turning win, which knotted the best-of-seven series at 1-1 and gave Utah home-court advantage heading into Friday's Game 3 at EnergySolutions Arena.
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