INDIANAPOLIS — Another opponent with a losing record, another perilous first few quarters.
But another victory, too.
The Jazz beat Indiana 112-100 Tuesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse by breaking open a tie game with a 16-4 run in the fourth, then waved goodbye to a second-straight sub-.500 club and looked ahead to three upcoming road games against playoff-bound teams from the East.
They'll do it with a 12-game win streak in tow — the third-longest in Jazz history, and three shy of matching the franchise record of 15.
And it's all possible because they didn't fold down the stretch, which was also the case in recent streak victories over Minnesota, Sacramento, Golden State, Houston and — on Sunday, at the start of a five-game trip — Toronto.
"A lot of these last (few) games we would have lost if we had hung our heads a little bit," point guard Deron Williams said after the 41-23 Jazz — still fourth in the Western Conference standings — pulled out of a records-tie with Portland and back into sole possession of first place in the NBA's Northwest Division.
"But," Williams added, "we've been outlasting teams in the fourth quarter, which is big for us, and finishing games, especially on the road."
They needed to do just that Tuesday in large part because of the first-half performance from 23-point team-high scorer Troy Murphy, who before the break made a whopping 7-of-8 from 3-point range.
But some simple adjustments cooled Murphy, who had only two free throws in the second half for the 28-38 Pacers.
"In transition, he walks to the 3-point line and stops and waits for the ball," Carlos Boozer said of Murphy, whose seven treys were a career-high. "We're all used to running back to the paint."
So the Jazz, after halftime, did what they discussed before the game, which is remembering that Murphy frequently prefers to trail the play.
They also actually paid some attention to the Pacers big man.
"We just had some boneheaded plays (in the first half)," Williams said. "We were doubling guys we shouldn't have doubled, leaving him open."
Also critical for the Jazz after halftime was their recognition that with Williams struggling with his shot — he dished a game-high 12 assists, and made a career high-tying five steals, but hit just 1-from-9 in the field and finished with only five points — others had to help carry the scoring load.
And he saw to it that they did, as Mehmet Okur scored a game-high 24 points, Paul Millsap added 22 off the bench and four others — Ronnie Brewer with 18, Boozer and Kyle Korver (11 each) and C.J. Miles (10) — reached double-digits.
"When he's not (hitting shots) you know he's passing the ball," said Millsap, who scored eight of his 22 in the fourth. "He's getting everybody else involved."
Williams, in fact, didn't score a point during the Jazz's decisive run.
Instead, Andrei Kirilenko hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to break a 90-90 tie with just under seven minutes to go.
Millsap followed with an inside bucket scored after he used a spin move to shake his defender, and before the run was done Kirilenko had two more points inside, Okur had five of his 24 on a bank shot and three free throws, and Korver had four with a left-side trey and a freebie stemming from a technical foul on Indiana's Jarrett Jack.
With that, the Jazz were well on their way to winning not only their 12th overall but also their fourth in a row on the road.
"The feeling's awesome," Okur said. "I mean, this is a great feeling. This is how we've got to go out there every night."98 comments on this story
With Atlanta waiting tonight, Miami on Saturday and Orlando on Sunday, however, it may take much more than that.
"We've just got to keep doing it," Williams said. "We can't get complacent, can't get satisfied with winning these two games on the road. We have a little bit left to do on this road trip still. We've got some tough games coming up."
"(The streak) can last as long as we want it to last," Millsap added, even knowing that three legit Southeast Division opponents come next. "Hopefully we get down there and continue to do the things we did to get here, and that's play defense (and) continue to share the ball."