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Utah Jazz: Defense rests as Jazz run wild on Rockets

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 2:09 a.m. MDT

Carlos Boozer, right, of the Utah Jazz puts pressure on Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Carlos Boozer, right, of the Utah Jazz puts pressure on Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — They were playing the Houston Rockets, on Saturday night, at home.

But their heads still were wrapped around the Sacramento Kings, on Friday night, on the road.

And that was a good thing for the 38-21 Jazz, as they parlayed the lessons learned in a loss they felt shouldn't have been into their highest-scoring game of the season — a 133-110 win over Houston at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We had a tough game (Friday) night," power forward Carlos Boozer said of the four-point defeat to lowly Sacramento. "Guys came back (Saturday night), though, ready to go."

"We needed it," added point guard Deron Williams, the Jazz's leading scorer in four of Utah's last five games. "You know, that was a tough loss (Friday) night — and those are the games we should win. We let one slip, but we were able to come back home and make it right."

Paul Millsap, left, and Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz apply pressure to shake up the drive of Jared Jeffries of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Paul Millsap, left, and Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz apply pressure to shake up the drive of Jared Jeffries of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Williams sparked the win, using a 20-point first quarter — a personal career high for points in a period — as the foundation for a 35-point, 13-point assist night.

The double-double was his 29th of the season, adding to the total that has him and Boozer — who scored 18 but had just eight rebounds, leaving him with 38 — as the only two teammates ranked among NBA top-10 leaders in double-doubles this season.

And the assist count marked Williams' ninth straight game with 10 or more assists, the longest such streak in the league this season and one more than fellow All-Star Steve Nash had earlier.

Williams also was 4-for-4 from 3-point range on a night the Jazz made 14 from behind the long-distance line — a season high, just one off the March 2008 (vs. Washington) franchise record and enough to get coach/noted trey despiser Jerry Sloan to joke that "I guess we need to shoot more 3s."

Ronnie Price of the Utah Jazz drives into the pressure of Garret Temple, left, and Jordan Hill of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Ronnie Price of the Utah Jazz drives into the pressure of Garret Temple, left, and Jordan Hill of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

All this from someone who had just 10 points while shooting 4-for-16 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3-point range, and committing five turnovers in Sacramento.

"As soon as the (Friday) game was over," Williams said, "I was ready for this one to start."

Yet even while Williams had the Jazz off to a 39-34 lead after one quarter, and Utah was enjoying a 70-point first half that marked its highest-scoring half of the season and highest-scoring opening half by five points, Sloan was concerned.

Partly, it was because of what happened against the Kings.

"We shot the ball well (Saturday)," he said after Utah hit 52-of-77 (a season-high 67.5 percent) from the field, topping its previous season high for field goals made by six. "Our bodies were alive. My only question was, 'Where were our bodies (Friday) night?' "

Mostly, though, it was four turnovers in the first quarter and another four in the second that had Sloan worried.

Kyrylo Fesenko, right, of the Utah Jazz reaches for the ball against Jordan Hill of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Kyrylo Fesenko, right, of the Utah Jazz reaches for the ball against Jordan Hill of the Houston Rockets during the second half of play at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City Saturday. The Jazz blasted the Rockets away, 133-110. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

"It looked like it was a bomb after a while, the way we were throwing it away," the Jazz coach said. "I mean, it was unforced turnovers.

"And I was afraid it was gonna be a long night, seeing that, knowing what was going on in the game, the tempo of the ballgame," Sloan added. "But fortunately we settled down and didn't throw it away as much."

The Jazz committed just five miscues total after the break, and they had their 11-point halftime lead up to as many as 25 on three occasions in the fourth quarter — the first when Kyle Korver fed Williams for a layup, making it 125-100, one point more than they scored in any previous game this season, and with more than six minutes still to go.

By the time the evening was done, all five Jazz starters had scored in double figures (along with 18 off the bench from Paul Millsap) and Utah had its highest-scoring game since putting up 133 against Golden State in November of 2007.

Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur makes a swipe for a rebound over Houston Rocket big man David Andersen. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Utah Jazz center Mehmet Okur makes a swipe for a rebound over Houston Rocket big man David Andersen. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Not that the Jazz, who next play road games against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night and Phoenix on Thursday night, needed such gaudy numbers to impress Sloan this time.

"I'm just happy with the win, after (Friday) night's game," he said. "Anything would have worked."

"We let one slip away (in Sacramento)," Boozer added. "That happens in the NBA. It was nice to bounce back. The thing is that you can't sulk about it, and we didn't."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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