DENVER Jazz center Mehmet Okur knew he could shoot.
Points Deron Williams knew from seeing him both in international play for Lithuania and collegiate play for the University of Missouri that he could score.
But who knew Linas Kleiza could put up career-high 41 points against the Jazz? Kleiza, for one, sounded as if he had no doubt after doing just that in Denver's 120-109 win over Utah on Thursday night.
"I was definitely in the zone," he said.
"I was able to get in the early (flow). I got a couple easy shots, got it definitely going," third-year NBA forward added. "It was just one of those nights."
HE SAID IT: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, after the loss: "Because of the way we shot the ball out on the perimeter they got in the open court and we had mismatches trying to get back. Had a terrible time trying to deal with it. They played a perfect game against us, the way things went for them. We couldn't do anything with them.
"We're throwing the ball away in the backcourt and trying to hit each other in the head. I don't know what's going on. And we're eight or nine points down at the time all this stuff's happening but we never could get ourselves together to believe that we could run an offense. We believed that whoever got it after the first pass takes a shot ."
TRADE TALK: Responding to a Wednesday report on Sports Illustrated's Web site SI.com that the Phoenix Suns have had "internal discussions" about Jazz starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko and others, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor on Thursday declined comment "on any trade talks."
O'Connor did, however, offer a generalized response when asked specifically about the possibility of the Jazz moving Kirilenko sometime between now and the NBA's Feb. 21 in-season trade deadline.
"Let me go back to my worn phrase," he said, "and say if we feel it would make our team better, (Jazz owner) Larry (H. Miller) is committed to do that.
"You know," added O'Connor, who was in Denver with the team, "he's committed to look at everything and that's what we've always done."
Kirilenko asked in the offseason to be traded.
When asked Thursday if that request had ever been formally withdrawn by the 2004 NBA All-Star, O'Connor said, "I wouldn't comment on that; I wouldn't say yes or no one way or the other on it. That's internal."
The Jazz and Suns did discuss a possible swap of Kirilenko for forward Shawn Marion this past offseason, But the Jazz turned the down the deal.
HE SAID IT: Nuggets coach George Karl, speaking to the Rocky Mountain News about Sloan: "I have the utmost respect for him. If I had to pick one guy that I could eliminate ever having to coach against, I'd probably pick Coach Sloan."
Sloan on Karl, in the same Rocky Mountain News story: "I've never liked to lose to (Karl). But you really don't develop a fondness for a guy who's kicking your rear end."
After Thursday, and dating back to their days back when Karl was coaching Seattle in the 1990s, Karl has a 32-31 edge on Sloan in all-time games coached against each other.MISC.: After missing four straight games due to a sprained left ankle, Jazz reserve guard Ronnie Price played six fourth-quarter minutes Thursday ... Rookie Morris Almond was inactive as a result of Price's return, but the Jazz plan to wait until after tonight's game before deciding whether or not to reassign Almond to their NBA Development League-affiliate Utah Flash ... After not playing (coach's decision) the past two games, Jazz swingman C.J. Miles logged nine minutes. Part of that was because Sloan benched starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer after he got beat on a third-quarter play by Carmelo Anthony. Brewer wound up logging a season-low 12 minutes.
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