Deron Williams delivered, big-time. Jazz defense was a fourth-quarter reality. And coach Jerry Sloan's club actually got to the free-throw line, with decided frequency.
No wonder Utah pulled away in the final quarter like it did Monday night, outscoring Milwaukee 27-15 over the last 12 minutes of a 98-87 victory over the Bucks that marked the Jazz's fourth consecutive win overall and their sixth straight at EnergySolutions Arena.
After all, as power forward Paul Millsap said, "We need all those parts to win a game."
And oh, did the Jazz (22-17) ever get all three Monday.
Williams playing despite a killer head cold, back spasms from a game ago and an assortment of other usual-for-this-time-of-the-season aches and pains scored a game-high 33 points and dished out another 10 assists for his 18th double-double of the season.
Fourteen of those 33 points came in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz down one heading into the period watched their third-season point guard take over.
Williams hit the jumper that put Utah ahead to stay, a 20-footer with 10 minutes and 27 seconds remaining that made it 73-72. His steal of an errant Michael Redd pass with 6:26 to go led to a layup of his own on the other end, pushing the Jazz's lead to eight. And that advantage peaked at 13 twice in the final minute, both times when Williams knocked down a free throw.
Williams finished 16-of-20 from the line, attempting more freebies than all of the Bucks combined they took just 18 and establishing personal career highs for both attempts and makes.
"He was the engine of our team," small forward Andrei Kirilenko said.
"He was in every part of the (game) defensively, offensively, passing, running the floor, finish(ing) attacks," Kirilenko added. "That's why we like him."
What the Jazz may have enjoyed even more, though, was how they clamped down defensively down the stretch.
Milwaukee went scoreless for the first 5:01 of the final quarter, and 0-for-9 from the field to open the period until ex-Jazz guard Mo Williams got a 3-pointer to fall with 4:35 left.
The 15-23 Bucks losers now of three straight overall, and six in a row to the Jazz dating back to 2001 hit just 11.1 percent in the fourth.
One key to the quarter was keeping guard Michael Redd, who dropped 57 points on Utah early last season, at bay. Redd finished with 16 points, and shot 0-for-5 in the fourth.
"I thought we did a better job in the second half of getting stops and helping each other out," Williams said. "That's what we have to do take key players out of the game."
Also critical was slowing ex-University of Utah star Andrew Bogut, who had 20 points through three quarters , in part because Jazz big men allowed him to turn to his favored side at will.
"He goes to the left," Sloan said, "and our guys got confused which was right and which was left."
All was right for the Jazz in fourth, though, as Bogut scored only three more points en route to his team-high 23.
"If we play 'D' like that," said power forward Carlos Boozer, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his 26th double-double of the season, "we're mostly successful and usually win games.
"Our 'D' creates our offense," Boozer added. "You know, Deron got a steal got an and-1."
Boozer was referring to Deron Williams' nab of the errant pass by Redd, which seemingly took the steam out of whatever comeback thoughts Milwaukee might have had.
"He was kind of off-balance a little bit and had to get rid of it," Williams said with a gravelly voice, "and I just jumped on the pass."
Williams, fouled by Mo Williams after his resulting layup, missed the free throw that followed. But he wound up going to the line 12 times in the fourth quarter alone, and that was no mere coincidence.
"Boozer, Memo (Okur), Paul (Millsap) did a great job of setting ball screens and getting me open and helping me get down the lane," Deron Williams said.
Multiple Jazz possessions not just those closed by Williams ended with an inside bucket and ensuing freebie.
That thrilled Sloan, whose club doesn't go to the line nearly often enough in his estimation.
"That's what we like to do," the Jazz coach said.
"You have a chance to get three-point plays around the basket and that's better, in my opinion, than sitting out there and relying on 3-point shots," Sloan added.
"Everybody likes the 3-point shot, because it's like a home run. Fans get excited the ball's going in the air, and think every one of them is going in. And that's fine. That's part of the game, and it's great for the game. But I'd rather get a three-point shot under the basket."
Even more than that, Sloan relished in Utah's defensive effort, which he called "aggressive."
It was, allowing the Jazz who next visit Denver on Thursday to go 4-0 in a now-concluded four-game homestand.
"If we (continue) to do that," Millsap said of the Jazz's defensive play, "the sky's the limit for us."And just imagine the ceiling if they continually get all three.
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