SALT LAKE CITY — James Taylor had Carolina in his mind.
The Jazz had Minnesota in theirs Saturday night, especially early on in a 116-83 blowout of NBA cellar-dweller New Jersey at sold-out EnergySolutions Arena.
That's because Utah already has two losses this season to the lowly Timberwolves, and coach Jerry Sloan warned in the morning about not allowing what happened against them to occur against a 3-40 Nets club whose record through 43 games ties with 1996-97 Denver and 1992-93 Dallas for the worst in NBA history.
The message apparently hit home for the 25-18 Jazz, who opened a stretch with two straight and 6-of-7 at EnergySolutions by winning — coincidentally — for the second consecutive time and the sixth in their last seven outings.
Utah's margin of victory, 33, was its highest this season, and its biggest lead of the game, 37, was its largest this season as well.
It was the 11th loss in a row for New Jersey, which has fallen by an average of 19.1 points per game during its current streak of ineptitude — and whose loss Saturday was by its largest deficit this season.
"We can't look at these teams' records," Carlos Boozer said after scoring a game-high 22 points and shooting 10-for-14 from the field.
"We've got to look at ourselves, and our record, and focus on us, and not have letdowns against teams that on paper we should beat."
"It's real scary," added fellow forward Paul Millsap, who had 20 points off the bench with 7-for-10 field shooting. "A team like that can come in, and it can go one of two ways.
"They're real dangerous and have nothing to lose. So, it was really imperative that we put them away and jump out to a quick lead."
The Jazz — who also got a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double (his sixth this season) from Mehmet Okur, 15 points with 5-for-5 field shooting from Ronnie Brewer and another 11 points with 4-for-5 shooting by Andrei Kirilenko — did just that.
After Boozer missed his initial jumper, Utah got something out of each of its next 10 possessions.
A 16-0 run midway through the opening quarter left the Jazz up 25-10, and by the time the period was done, Utah led 34-21 — matching its highest-scoring first quarter this season.
The Jazz hit 85.7 percent (12-of-14) in the period — a late failed trey try by Okur would have made it 92.9 — for its highest shooting percentage in any quarter since November 2007 vs. Golden State.
"It at least looked like they were having fun playing with each, and trying to help each other defensively is one of the things hopefully they can build on," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
"They passed the basketball, to an extreme a couple of times, and I think that makes everybody happy."
Does it ever.
"We trust each other," Boozer said. "We have a trust in the offense, and that's how we are able to share the ball more. Because we know whoever gets the ball can do something good with it, and if somebody is open we will get it to them. Trust is a big thing on our team, and now that we finally have it we are rolling and having fun."
The Jazz took a 60-42 lead into the break, largely behind 13 points scored all in the first quarter by Okur, whose 20 marked the most he's scored since Nov. 9 at New York.
Their advantage never dipped below 20 after Boozer scored on a Kirilenko-fed layup 18 seconds into the third quarter, and they led by 31 or more throughout the fourth.
Utah was up by 37 on three occasions in the final quarter, the last time when Millsap drove with a Sundiata Gaines pass, made his layup and hit the ensuing free throw to make it 107-70 with just under five minutes left.
"It's a great win," point guard Deron Williams said after the Jazz won by six more points than their previous biggest victory — against Memphis in November — this season. "We've had games like this where we slipped up."
The reference mostly was to Minnesota, and he didn't even have to say "Timberwolves" to make his point.
NOTES: The Nets were without starting point guard Devin Harris, who sprained his right wrist late in Friday's loss at Golden State. ... Kirilenko jammed a knuckle on his left hand. X-rays at halftime were negative; he didn't miss any time because of it. Kirilenko said it was a "normal basketball injury" sustained while attempting to make a steal, and he should be fine in "a couple days." He played with his fingers taped in the second half. ... Ex-Jazz forward and first-round draft choice Kris Humphries, recently traded from Dallas, had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Nets.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company