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Utah Jazz: For Deron Williams, it's simple as 1, 2, 3

Published: Thursday, Dec. 16 2010 12:19 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — From being one of the best playing his position these days, to sliding over on occasion to shooting guard, to knocking down more treys, it seems as simple as 1-2-3.

In actuality, pinpointing precisely why the Jazz's Deron Williams has thrived as much as he has lately is more complicated.

Explanations can be dissected and debated ad nauseam.

What shouldn't be disputed, though, is the assertion that Williams has his game on. Because in this case, numbers don't lie.

Three straight games with 30 or more points, one with a season-high 34, and three straight games with 50 percent or better shooting. At least 21 points in 10 of his last 11 games. A 25.7 points-per-game scoring average during that span, and an 8-3 record in that stretch.

"He's been sensational, really," coach Jerry Sloan said.

"I'd have to say this is as good as I have ever seen him play," Sloan added after Utah beat Golden State last Monday night to improve to 18-8. "He's playing terrific basketball."

It's not the first time this season Sloan has been so effusive in his praise of Williams, whose assists average of 9.8 is down from last season's 10.5 — but whose team-leading scoring average of 23.0 is up by 4.3 points.

And it's not the first time Williams has scored so prolifically; early in 2009, he had five consecutive games with 30-plus points and 50 percent-plus shooting.

But it's just part of the job description, Williams insists.

"I'm just trying to do my part," he said.

"I've had to take a little bit more aggressive approach scoring the basketball this year than I have in the past, and that's what I am doing," Williams added. "I still want to get my teammates the ball, and I'm still a point guard first, but it's necessary on this team for me to score more."

What follows is a closer look at just how he's done that, starting behind the arc:

Hitting more 3s

Through 26 games this season — just less than a third of the 82-game regular season — Williams has attempted 122 3-pointers, a number boosted partly because long-distance shooting big man Mehmet Okur has been out while rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon.

The point guard is on pace to shoot 384 — which would be 125 more than last season's career-high 259.

More recently, though, he's not just putting them up. He's also draining them with improved efficiency.

"He had been talking about just trying to find his 3-point shot, and he's found it — which is the reason he's just knocked his points up (by) like eight or nine," teammate C.J. Miles said. "Instead of going like, 0-for-6 (in a game), now he's 3-for-6."

Starting Dec. 1, to be exact, Williams endured four games in which he went 1-for-6, 1-for-3, 1-for-7 and 0-for-5 on trey tries — 3-for-21 in all, a 14.3 percent clip.

In his last three games, though, Williams has gone 4-for-7, 2-for-4 and 4-for-8 — a 52.6 percent success rate.

"Him finding his jumpshot has really helped him out a lot," Miles said, "and it's helped his game more, because now they can't play off him."

Playing more 2

From his days next to Dee Brown at the University of Illinois to those alongside Milt Palacio and Keith McLeod as a Jazz rookie, and later paired at times with Brevin Knight, Williams hasn't always embraced being told to play some shooting guard.

His sixth NBA season, with veteran Earl Watson as his primary backup, is different.

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