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Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Utah's Mehmet Okur drives to the hoop past Denver's Kenyon Martin on Saturday night.

They've spoken frequently the past few weeks about just how much they want to pull away from Denver, their closest pursuer in the NBA's Northwest Division.

On Saturday night, the division's defending champs backed the talk with a performance so resounding that the Nuggets — at least for now — look like a blip in the rearview mirror.

The Jazz beat Denver 132-105 at sold-out Energy Solutions Arena, using a 77-point first half to bury the Nuggets even before the break — and put four games between the two teams in the chase for the division title that represents an automatic postseason berth.

The victory, with a point total one off its season high, is Utah's fifth straight overall — capping a 4-0 week for the Jazz that also included victories Monday over playoff-bound Dallas and Friday at Phoenix.

"We're playing with unbelievable confidence," said forward Paul Millsap, one of seven Jazz players in double figures and one of four with double-doubles, along with Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and 27-point team-high scorer Mehmet Okur. "Guys are coming to play. We're knocking down shots. We're just out there having fun."

That's been the case quite frequently lately at home, where the 42-22 Jazz now have won 18 straight — a streak dating to New Year's Eve.

That's one short of the franchise record, which can be tied with a victory March 17 vs. Toronto — though only after the Jazz, who are in the thick of a tight Western Conference playoff race, return from a four-games-in-five-nights trip this week with stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, Boston and New Jersey.

"Anytime we play three playoff teams and beat them when the race is this close, it's big for us," Jazz point Deron Williams said with reference to the Mavericks, Suns and Nuggets. "It was a great week, and gave us a lot of confidence.

"Hopefully it will carry over," Williams added, "because this road trip coming up is hard. We've struggled when we go on the East Coast. So we've got to take the same energy we've had this whole week, and take it on the road."

The Jazz — who led 77-54 at halftime, and never let the Nuggets get closer than 23 in the second half — certainly seemed to be riding a double dose of Red Bull on Saturday.

Their opening-half output matches what they posted in the first half against Golden State just last month, and is just six shy of the franchise record for points in a half last reached against Milwaukee in 1990.

The 77 included 43 points in the second quarter alone, a season-high for points in a period — but seven short of the franchise record scored against Denver in 1982.

It also featured eight 3-pointers, tying the franchise record for treys in a half that was set twice previously this season — both times against New Orleans.

Four of the 3s came from Okur on 4-of-4 shooting from behind the long-distance line in the second quarter alone — one off ex-Jazz guard Gordan Giricek's individual Jazz record for 3-pointers in a period.

"Memo was hitting shots from all over the place," Williams said of center Okur, who finished 9-of-11 from the field, including 6-for-7 from 3-point range.

"I know what happens when Memo gets hot, and when he does I look for him," added Williams, whose 16 assists and 14 points accounted for his 39th double-double of the season. "I don't know how, or why, they were leaving that much open, but they kept doing it — and he definitely made them pay."

The 37-25 Nuggets, coming off a big win over San Antonio on the same night Utah beat Phoenix, found themselves down by as many as 37 when Okur knocked down one of his treys midway through the third quarter.

That's the biggest advantage the Jazz have enjoyed this season.

Yet it still wasn't enough to convince them the Nuggets can be erased from their minds.

"It's gonna be hard to catch four games on us," Williams said, "but you never know."

"We can't look at it like that," added Boozer, whose double-double, including 23 points, was his 42nd. "We've got to win every game we play. Let them worry about them, and us worry about us. You know, we know that we do have a little bit of position — but we don't want to look at it that way. Otherwise they may shorten that gap."

NOTES: Jazz backup small forward Matt Harpring scored 10 Saturday despite a bruised right calf muscle sustained Friday. ... Backup point guard Ronnie Price said he left Saturday's game early because he was scared by a pop-like feeling in a muscle near his shoulder, but afterward was relieved that it didn't seem to be anything serious. ... Nuggets power forward Kenyon Martin, the victim of an apparent inadvertent elbow on an Okur drive to the basket, exited early because he felt groggy and nauseous. He didn't return, having sustained a mild concussion. ... Denver stars Allen Iverson, who scored a game-high 28, and Carmelo Anthony, who had 24, both played despite, respectively, a sprained finger and bruised knee sustained in Friday's win over San Antonio.