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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

"I like it this season," Williams said. "I like coming off the screens. And Earl gets me the ball in a good position to score.

"You know, even if I don't score, I have a chance to get it to other people where they can score. So it's not like I'm just coming off to shoot every time. I'm making plays from the 2."

Making them quite well, too, in Sloan's estimation.

"When we play him at the 2-guard position, he gets open," the Jazz coach said. "If I'm a young player, I'd watch him and see how he gets open.

"Instead of letting people guard you, he knows how to pace himself, he knows how set the guy up, and he knows how to use screens, he knows how to catch the ball and shoot it. He doesn't waste any time.

"He gets the kind of shots you like to have a lot of times in there — because he's good coming off the baseline shooting the ball," added Sloan, whose Jazz are idle until opening a four-game trip Friday at New Orleans. "Those opportunities still probably are gonna be there if we execute halfway decent."

Sloan doesn't mind Williams' increased shooting — at nearly 16 shots per game, he's attempting about two more per game from the field than last season — whatsoever.

"No, we're not trying to keep him from taking shots," Sloan said. "It's a matter of who can make good shots."

Williams can, which makes guarding him that much more difficult for opponents who must deal with him not only as a point but also — even in critical fourth-quarter situations at times this season — as an off-guard.

"I think it's helped," center Al Jefferson said, "because it really puts defenses in an uncomfortable situation — because he's coming off screens, and also he can get the ball still in the pick-and-roll."

Truth be told, it's not as if Williams — whose need to score has been heightened by both Okur's absence and the move of All-Star free agent Carlos Boozer and his 19.5 points-per-game average to Chicago — has had to learn anything new.

"Where I'm playing my best is coming off screens. That's what we did in college," he said. "We ran motion offense. That's all we did, is run off screens. And Coach (Bruce) Weber was constantly telling us to run, run through, and just learn how to get separation."

In the past, though, it wasn't something Williams necessarily enjoyed.

He wasn't controlling the pace of play.

He wasn't making nearly as many decisions.

He wasn't in charge.

But now he's committed to the concept, buying in because he knows it's best for the Jazz offense as currently constituted.

"It seems like before when I played the 2, there (weren't) plays being run to me. And I don't like being out there and not touching the ball," Williams said. "Now we're running plays where I get the ball back, and then can create for myself or for others."

He's No. 1?

As important as those limited minutes at the 2 have been to him and the Jazz, Williams is at heart a point guard.

He runs things, and savors doing so — especially when things are going well, like when he scored 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter of last Friday's win over Orlando and when he scored 11 of his 30 in Monday's victory over Golden State.

It's the kind of stuff that turns one-time NBA All-Stars into multi-time All-Stars — Williams made his first appearance at the league's in-season showcase game last February, when it was held near his Dallas-area hometown of The Colony — and inserts unlikely names into NBA MVP conversations.

Not that Williams, who earlier this week was presented with his award for winning Western Conference November Player of the Month honors, claims to be obsessed with any of that.

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