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Utah Jazz: Mehmet Okur is 'Money' against Blazers

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 4:25 a.m. MDT

Jazz center Mehmet Okur, right, scores while he is fouled by the Trail Blazers' Martell Webster. Okur led Utah in scoring with a season-high 28 points hitting 9-of-11 shots. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Jazz center Mehmet Okur, right, scores while he is fouled by the Trail Blazers' Martell Webster. Okur led Utah in scoring with a season-high 28 points hitting 9-of-11 shots. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — "Junior Money," the name Mehmet Okur jokingly said his soon-to-be-born son will go by, might want to watch a replay of his pop's performance from Wednesday when he grows up.

The little Okur might be able to find someone from Turkey who can help him do that someday, too.

A soldout crowd of 19,911 at EnergySolutions Arena certainly liked what they saw from the already proud papa, who lived up to his nickname during the Utah Jazz's 118-105 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The man P.A. announcer Dan Roberts enthusiastically calls "Money" cashed in for a season-high 28 points while making a sizzling 11 of 13 shots on what was unofficially Turkish Delight & Highlight Night at EnergySolutions Arena.

"It felt good," a smiling Okur said after notching only his third 20-point game of the season.

Okur and his family members — both current and future — certainly weren't the only ones with Turkish ties to enjoy this one.

Okur, who also had eight rebounds and a blocked shot, had his own little cheering section from Turkey going nuts much of the game from about eight rows behind the Jazz bench.

One especially enthusiastic fan from his homeland proudly waved the red Turkish flag with the crescent moon and star throughout the game.

Told by a reporter that one of his Turkish fans taped part of the game, Okur smiled and said: "I must be big time."

Though Okur said it isn't unusual for basketball fans from Turkey to come support him at away games in big cities, the Jazz center got a kick out of this vocal fan club.

Okur even noticed them before the game started, and made a point to go meet them and get his picture taken with the group.

"I didn't know them. They just showed up," Okur said. "I (had) to go out there and say, 'Hi' and (I) appreciate it."

There were a lot more people in the arena who also appreciated what Okur did during the game, including his coach. Jerry Sloan was pleased how his center, who sometimes relies a bit too much on his 3-point shooting, aggressively attacked the basket.

In fact, only three of Okur's field-goal attempts were jumpers.

Sloan said Okur "played a really good game," which wasn't easy considering he was matched up against Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points, 12 rebounds) for much of the night.

The inside-out game made Okur a task to defend. Sloan loved how the 7-footer "right off the bat tonight took the ball inside." That, the coach added, will force teams to respect his driving game in the future and could open things up.

That was Okur's plan.

"I was able to mix up my game," he said. "I didn't want to settle (on) my jumpers, just wanted to be active."

As for his baby situation, Okur said his wife, Yeliz, a former Miss Turkey who's still attending games, has scheduled a doctor's appointment for a C-section delivery on Feb. 21.

That, coincidentally, happens to be the same day the Jazz play these same Trail Blazers again in Portland.

"We'll be on the road," Okur said of the Jazz.

Most of the Jazz will be, at least.

Barring an unexpected early delivery, the guy whose nickname might need to be changed to Money Sr. plans on being in Utah with his wife.

"I'll be here," he said.

Until then, Okur, who also has a nearly 3-year-old girl, will enjoy his quiet nights at home.

"When we have the baby it's going to be long first couple of months," he said. "Because we (are) probably not going to be able to sleep. I'm used to it from the first one so I'll be OK I guess."

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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