SALT LAKE CITY — Toronto coach Jay Triano said prior to Wednesday night's Jazz-Raptors game that if his team would have any chance of winning it needed to contain Deron Williams.
Mission not accomplished.
Williams came within striking distance of a triple-double with 22 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds in Utah's 125-108 victory. He had five of his assists during a 41-point explosion in the first quarter, as he put the Raptors on their heels with several fast breaks.
"They got one of the best point guards in the NBA, if not the best," Triano said. "Coast-to-coast, he's very good. He makes plays for other people. He defends really well. He is probably the top one or two point guards in the whole league."
Williams certainly lived up to those complimentary words against Toronto. During the Jazz's game-opening 15-2 run, he sparked the team with two assists on fast breaks, dishing on a dunk by Andrei Kirilenko and a layup by Paul Millsap. He also had a dunk of his own and scored four points during the spurt.
He wasn't finished, as he had 14 points — nearly eclipsing his previous season-high of 17 points — and added four rebounds in the first quarter.
"Deron was picking apart their defense," said guard Ronnie Price. "He, Paul (Millsap) and Al (Jefferson) had the pick-and-roll going early so they had to start helping and when they helped, Deron found the open guy. That's why he is such a great point guard."3 comments on this story
The fast start set the game's tone until Toronto made a run at the Jazz in the third quarter.
"He goes how we go there isn't any question about that," coach Jerry Sloan said of Williams. "He had a terrific game. He was alive. He was on top of things. He was so quick to the ball. You could see the difference."
Williams came close to recording his first career triple-double but fell two rebounds short. He said he knew how close he was to the milestone late in the game.
"Yeah, A.K. let me know," Williams said. "It doesn't matter to me. I'll get one sooner or later."