DALLAS — Jerry Sloan didn't expect him to go. Kyle Korver figured he was "50-50." And Deron Williams himself?
He didn't decide to play until after pregame warmups Saturday night.
But the Jazz sure were glad Williams made the better-late-than-never call, as their starting point guard scored a team-high 20 points and dished nine assists to lead Utah past Dallas 111-93 at sold-out American Airlines Center.
"Deron's our leader, our best player," Korver said. "Having him back gave us a huge lift."
"I thought everybody played great — you know, unselfish basketball," Williams said on a night the Jazz had assists on 28 of their 42 field goals. "We got stops, made them take a lot of outside shots, a lot of tough shots."
Williams missed the Jazz's last two games — a split with Memphis — with a sprained and bruised right wrist.
Despite that, he shot 7-for-13 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line, helping the 20-17 Jazz snap a five-game losing streak in Dallas and win here for the first time since April 2007.
"I didn't know whether he was gonna play or not," Sloan said. "But the fact that he did — you saw what he was able to give us, and that's the big thing. We miss him when he (isn't) there."
It was just the 13th win in their past 14 games at Dallas for the 20-17 Jazz, who since losing three straight to Northwest Division opponents Oklahoma City, Denver and New Orleans have won two of their past three.
"He (Williams) came up big for us and really put us over the hump," said Jazz shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, who played 26 minutes despite partially dislocating his right pinkie finger in the opening quarter.
"We know he's not 110 percent, but he can still go out there sacrificing, jumping on the floor, setting screens, passing the ball," Brewer added. "And I think we're all playing off him — his emotion, his toughness."
The Jazz used an 8-0 run at the end of the first quarter — a drive by Williams, an Andrei Kirilenko dunk off a feed by Brewer and two Brewer buckets inside, all after Brewer returned with his finger taped — to take a 26-18 lead into the second.
Utah never allowed Dallas (25-12) to get any closer than that, and after taking a 50-40 lead into halftime it led by double digits the rest of the way. By late in the third quarter, after Williams hit two free throws, the Jazz's advantage stood at a game-high 24 points, 83-59.
"That was one of our better games, where we passed the basketball and tried to do things the right way," Sloan said.
The Mavericks were within 13 after 29-point, game-high scorer Dirk Nowitzki hit a turnaround with 51/2 minutes to go, but a Boozer jumper followed by back-to-back Paul Millsap jumpers stymied any hopes for a Dallas comeback.
Nowitzki scored 10 of his 29 in the fourth quarter Saturday, but it would be nothing like the Jazz's first trip here this season, when he had 29 of his 40 points in the final period to lift the Mavs.
This time, Boozer said, "We made him work."
The Jazz did plenty of that themselves as well, getting another 15 points from Boozer, 14 from Mehmet Okur, 12 apiece from Korver (who played only in the fourth quarter, shooting 4-for-4, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range) and Millsap, 10 from rookie Wesley Matthews and nine each by Kirilenko and Brewer.
Not bad spreading of the wealth for a team that had lost 6-of-9 coming in.
"We need to get going," Boozer said, "and play like this every night. ... That's what Coach (Sloan) just talked about: We need to bring this kind of intensity every night."
Especially if it's anything like that exhibited Saturday by Williams, who shot as if the wrist — injured in a hard fall last Monday vs. New Orleans — wasn't bothering him at all.
Even though it was.
"It really hurts when I shoot," Williams said. "It really hurt before the game. It's just kind of weak. But you don't know until you get out there and that adrenaline starts kicking in.
"Second and third quarter, it kind of warmed up. Toward the fourth, I hit it a couple of times and it kind of tightened back up and started hurting. So, it felt good for a while there.
"I'm glad I did (play)," added Williams, who was frustrated watching the Jazz lose by two in Memphis on Friday night. "I probably should have played (Friday) too."