It seemed to be all about 3-pointers Monday night for the Utah Jazz against a team with a superior record, the New Orleans Hornets.
Kyle Korver came into the game in the second quarter and hit four threes in a row, and Deron Williams added another, followed by one from Mehmet Okur, and a one-point game was suddenly a 13-point game.
But to Williams, who had a remarkable game to as teammate Carlos Boozer put it send a message that he should be in the All-Star Game, the real backbreaker was getting the Hornets' young All-Star and his good friend Chris Paul into early foul trouble.
Utah made a franchise-record fourteen 3-pointers, including a team-record seven in the second quarter, to run its winning streak to nine games, longest since 2000 for the Jazz and longest active streak in the NBA, in a 110-88 runaway at EnergySolutions Arena.
But sitting Paul on the bench for 21 minutes was as important to the win as the 64 percent shooting from beyond the arc to Williams.
"I think that was the key to the game,' he said. "They're definitely a different team with him out. Jannero (Pargo, who tied his season-high with 24 points) came in and did a great job of scoring the ball, but it's just a different look. They're a different team when (Paul's) not in, getting to the hole and passing, and that was really important.'
The Jazz could thank Williams for that, too.
Williams had 29 points and 11 assists and made 11 of 13 shots including 3-for-4 on threes, but he also picked up the first two fouls against Paul in the first five-plus minutes, making New Orleans coach Byron Scott sub for him quickly.
"He was in foul trouble pretty much the whole game," said Williams "I got that first cheap one on him, and I went to the hole and tried to post him up, and he got the second one, and that definitely hurt their team.'
Paul came back to play the second quarter and pick up six points and make two assists, but the Jazz had begun hitting threes by then, and he got his third and fourth fouls in the first five minutes of the third quarter as Utah sprinted to a lead of 22.
Meanwhile, Williams was directing a legendary night for Utah and complaining afterward about all the questions about playing against Paul, with whom he's always compared, and about not making the All-Star lineup yet.
"Just so y'all know,' said Carlos Boozer, whose 19 points and 17 boards gave him his 33rd double-double, "D-Will put on a show tonight to let the league know, the coaches know, that he should be in the All-Star Game. He should be, and he proved it tonight.'
Williams' night included a spectacularly emphatic dunk as he left Paul at a screen and slammed it home early in the third.
"Oh, that was a message,' Boozer said. "Willy sent a message tonight. He may not say it to y'all, but I'm going to say it to y'all n he came out and wanted to prove to you guys that he should be in the All-Star Game.'
"He ran the show, got us in the stuff that he felt comfortable with and he made some great plays passing the basketball, and guys made shots,' said coach Jerry Sloan, adding that Williams has played consistently well throughout Utah's January/February turnaround in which it's won 14 of 16 games to push the record to 31-18. New Orleans is 32-15 and second in the Western Conference.
But few of those wins have seen the Jazz shooting it like they did on Monday, not that Sloan was overly pleased with taking all the outside shots because they helped the Hornets build a 25-19 halftime edge in rebounds and let them run to some easy baskets, even without Paul in the game.
The Jazz were 14-for-22 on threes, Korver making 6-for-8, Okur 4-for-7 and Williams 3-for-4. And they shot 51 percent from the field.
"D-Will did such a great job creating open shots for us, and just make it down, and it really felt good,' said Okur, who had 14 points, three steals and seven rebounds.
Boozer said he saw the rebounding differential and made up his mind to do something about it in the second half. "I put it all on my back,' he said. "I told myself I'm going to go out there and get all of them, get as many as I can get. I challenged myself to get every rebound I can get. I told the guys, 'You make them miss, I'll go get them."
The Jazz play at Denver Wednesday night at 7, and they are keenly aware of how badly Denver beat them on Jan. 17, 120-109, one of their two January losses.
"Yeah, they beat us to death,' said Sloan. "We didn't give them much of a battle. I was disappointed in the way we played and the way we tried to play against them. We tried those (long) kind of shots. They made their 3-point shots and made us look like we hadn't been in the ballgame. We have to try to get the ball inside to try to play against them, if that's at all possible.'
"We played pretty bad and got embarrassed on their floor,' recalled Williams. "This is going to be an important game to pick up two full games in the standings.' Utah has a one-game lead over the Nuggets in the Northwest Division.