WASHINGTON With four points and 1-of-9 shooting from the field, power forward Carlos Boozer didn't exactly play like the NBA Western Conference All-Star that he is. For most of three quarters, point guard Deron Williams didn't quite look as if he felt particularly snubbed over not being similarly honored.
But with those two struggling, center Mehmet Okur who was an All-Star last year, but not at all a serious contender this season was there to help save the night for the Jazz.
Okur scored a team-high 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds Friday, lifting Utah to a 96-87 victory over Washington at the Verizon Center that pushed the Jazz's winning streaks to seven straight overall and three in a row on the road.
"I had to step up and do my thing out there," said Okur, whose 13.0 points-per-game average is 4.6 off his norm from last season.
"I was really active," Okur added. "I attacked the basket, I tried to get to the free-throw line. Then I started to settle on my jumper, so it really felt good out there."
The big Turk, however, was hardly the Jazz's only savior.
Utah also got 16 points from Andrei Kirilenko, 12 by Ronnie Brewer and 26 from its bench, including Matt Harpring's 10, plus another eight rebounds from Boozer-backup Paul Millsap.
"It's not tennis; it's not track-and-field, baby. This is hoops, man," said Boozer, who was bottled for his lowest offensive-output game of the season just one night after being tapped by conference coaches as an All-Star Game reserve for a second-straight year.
"That's what I told the fellas after the game," Boozer added. "That's the great thing about team sports, man. Somebody's always there to pick you up, and my team lifted me and D-Will up, and we got a win."
The Northwest Division-leading Jazz got off to a terrible start against the 24-21 Wizards, who had a game-high 31 points from one of their own All-Stars, Antawn Jamison, but were missing two others, 2008 selection Caron Butler (sidelined with a hip flexor strain) and blast-from-the-past Gilbert Arenas (out long-term following knee surgery).
"They had us going every which way," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose 29-18 club has won 13 of its last 15. "They were matching up, zone, man-to-man, had us really out of synch. We had a tough time trying to figure out what we were doing.
"Once we settled down and started playing started running the floor a little bit better then we were able to get back in the ballgame."
After Washington led by as many as 12 in the opening quarter, Okur had six points on 3-of-4 field shooting in the second period to send the Jazz into halftime down just one at 39-38.
And after Harpring scored with a Boozer-fed reserve layup to make it 67-66 Jazz with 34.1 seconds left in the third, Utah overcoming a 10-plus-point deficit on the road for the first time this season was ahead to stay.
Williams took care of the closing, scoring nine of his 11 points in the final quarter as the Jazz quickly built a double-digit lead of their own. He also dished four of his dozen assists in the game's last 12 minutes, marking the season's 25th double-double for the two-time All-Star Game snub.
The 12 dimes also helped Utah register an assist on 32 of its 36 field goals. That's a 90-percent clip, just shy of the league-best 90.4 percent success rate the Jazz registered in an early December game against Miami.
"Deron Williams was sensational in the fourth quarter," Sloan said. "He took the ballgame over, he shot the ball, he did everything you'd ask him to do. He called all the plays, and got us into what was good for him."
Williams, who had three turnovers in the opening quarter and readily admitted to struggling in the first half, credited a teammate for getting him going.
As it happened, it was one who wasn't even dressed to play.
"(Foul trouble) kind of took my aggressiveness away, my mentality away," Williams said. "J-Hart (injured backup point Jason Hart) just told me in the third not to let the fouls take my aggressiveness away."
It worked, allowing the Jazz to roll into tonight's visit with Memphis feeling like quite a team.So there, tennis. Take that, track-and-field.
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