On Tuesday night, Mehmet Okur gave Jazz coach Jerry Sloan a nice 20th anniversary gift in the form of a game-winning shot in the last seconds of Utah's come-from-behind win at Minnesota.
Thursday marked the same two-decade milestone for Jazz assistant coach Phil Johnson.
Sure enough, Okur pulled out another present to give the former NBA coach of the year who happens to be highly regarded by Utah's starting center.
Forget China, the traditional offering for this occasion. The Jazz big man gave Johnson and Utah in a 97-88 win over Portland at EnergySolutions Arena a big serving of Turkish Delight.
Though Sloan had to wait for the best part of his present Tuesday a floating jumper with 1.7 seconds remaining in the thrilling victory over the Timberwolves Okur didn't delay the suspense in this one.
Okur scored 21 of his season-high 27 points in the first half and helped Utah take control of this nationally televised TNT contest early on.
After scoring the opening bucket of the game, Okur exploded for nine points in three minutes later in the first quarter. That helped keep Utah in the game.
Okur went on another scoring flurry in the second quarter, when he added another 10 points in less than a four-minute span before halftime. That helped Utah take control of the game.
The Jazz center hit 8 of 11 shots during his first-half 21-point explosion, which was a career-high for points in one half and boosted Utah to a 57-46 halftime advantage.
"He shot the ball well," Sloan said. "When he's into his shooting he knows how to get open, knows how to shoot it. So, I don't have a problem with him taking the shots that he takes."
Those eight makes were from all over the court, too.
One came after a sweet spin move around LaMarcus Aldridge, finished off with a power dunk. He sank some mid-range jumpers, a couple of vintage money-ball 3-pointers and added a hard-earned three-point play after driving strong, being fouled and hitting the floor about the same time the ball went through the basket.
All the better for Okur that his big night came 20 years to the date after Johnson was hired to be Sloan's top assistant on Dec. 11, 1988.
Okur smiles as he talks about his strong relationship with Johnson, whom he works closely with during practices. The seventh-year big man even calls the 67-year-old assistant "my guy" and laughs about the "fun on the court" they have together.
"He's been here forever. He's got great experience with Jerry and I'm glad I'm here with him," Okur said recently about Johnson.
"I like to talk to him every day on the court, off the court," Okur added. "I talk about what's going on, what I should do better on the court and he tries to teach me every day and show me every day."The teacher had to be happy with the apple and sweet treat from Turkey he received on his big day.
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