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Utah Jazz: Dallas takes a beating

Published: Thursday, Feb. 5 2009 11:29 p.m. MST

At 1-11, their woeful record in the second game of back-to-back sets this season is well-chronicled — and will be magnified tonight, when the Jazz visit Sacramento.
On Thursday night at EnergySolutions Arena, though, it was the Dallas Mavericks and All-Star Dirk Nowitzki who appeared to be the weary ones.
The Jazz beat Dallas 115-87 in a late-starting game on TNT, in the large part because of the 34-point, 12-assist, five-rebound performance from point guard Deron Williams — and as well because of how they took advantage of a tired-looking Mavs team that beat Portland on Wednesday night in Texas.
The victory, Utah's second straight and third in its last four games, had to be satisfying in two regards.
One is that it lifted the 28-22 Jazz past Phoenix and into eight place in the NBA's Western Conference standings — meaning Utah not only moves into a playoff position, but also is now within three games of fourth-place Portland.
The Jazz also ended Dallas' four-game win streak and picked up a full game on the Mavs, who along with both New Orleans and Houston came into the night two-and-a-half up on Utah.
The other is that it was done with yet another injury-altered lineup.
Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer (arthroscopic knee surgery) missed his 38th straight game and small forward Andrei Kirilenko (ankle surgery) missed his eight in a row as Utah's count of man games lost to injury and/or illness this season to 127.
Usual Jazz starting small forward C.J. Miles also did not play because of an upper respiratory infection, so backup shooting guard Kyle Korver opened and usual starting 2 Ronnie Brewer slid to the 3 spot.
But Williams, who missed Monday night's victory over Charlotte because of a deep thigh bruise and related swelling in his right knee, was able to go.
He made the most of his national cable-TV appearance, too.
With Williams scoring 14 of his game-high 34 in the opening half, the Jazz led 24-20 after one quarter and 57-47 at the break.
And with Paul Millsap, Jarron Collins and Matt Harpring all taking turns on him on the other end, Nowitzki had 11 points but hit just 5-for-13 from the field in those first two periods.
But what especially hurt the Mavs early on was the shooting of small forward Josh Howard, who opened 1-for-10 and had made just 3-of-14 at halftime.
Utah extended its advantage to 73-54 when Williams delivered a long, fastbreak pass to Millsap for an alley-oop dunk with six minutes and 25 seconds to go in the third, and the Jazz coasted from there.
Williams hit three free throws stemming from a flagrant-1 foul and a technical on Howard with 2.3 seconds left in the quarter — part of a personal 16-point, five-assist period - and Utah went into the fourth up a comfy 28 at 94-66.
NOTES: Jazz backup point guard Brevin Knight sustained an inflamed left thumb and did not return in the second half. His status for tonight is uncertain. ... Miles' absence was his fourth this season, including three games missed last month with a sprained ankle. ... Neither Boozer nor Kirilenko traveled with the team for its two-game road trip to Sacramento and Golden State, but Miles did. ... The Jazz are now 3-0 on major national cable TV this season, including 2-0 on TNT.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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